Chef Ben Kramer’s Tomato Leaf Cavatelli and Simple Tomato Sauce
Tomato Leaf Cavatelli
1 kg flour
200 g tomato leaves
50 ml olive oil
500 ml sparkling water
Blanch the tomato leaves and shock them in ice water. Puree with some of the sparkling water.
Weigh out your flour and put it on your counter in a pile. Use your fingers to make a well in the centre. Pour the water into the well and then the olive oil. Using a fork, slowly start incorporating the flour into the pool of water and oil. (Take flour from the interior wall so your mountain of flour doesn’t break and cause your water to leak.) Keep adding flour to the water until the mixture in the well looks like really thick pancake batter—then step away from the fork.
Use a bench scraper to add the remaining flour from the sides of the well into the middle. Do this by lifting the flower and cutting it into the dough. Add some more flour if it’s still sticky (it’s an art, not a science). Keep turning the dough 45 degrees and working in the flour.
Now it’s time to knead the dough. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth. (Alternatively, you can make the dough in a mixer with a dough hook, but it isn’t really as fun or therapeutic. This is cooking, take your time). Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest at least 30 min or a few hours or overnight.
After letting the dough rest, cut a chunk from the ball and leave the rest under a towel so that it doesn’t dry out. Roll the dough into a long, even snake shape, starting in the middle and rolling outward. Cut the strip of dough into 1/4 inch pieces on a slight bias (a little diamond!). Press the diamond into a fork and flick it off the tines creating little grooves in the dough.
Simple Tomato Sauce with Fresh Ricotta
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2–4 garlic cloves, minced
5 lbs tomatoes, chopped
Optional: for garnish, oven-dried Roma tomatoes and chili crisp*
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, cook a couple of minutes until your kitchen smells great. Add some basil leaves, stir it up and marvel in the aroma. Add your tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 8–10 minutes until it looks like sauce and is not too runny.
While your sauce is simmering, drop your pasta into salted, boiling water. Cook it until it is almost done (like 90%; you will finish cooking them in the sauce). Add your pasta to the sauce and keep simmering. Add a splash of the starchy pasta water when you do this. Keep cooking until the noodles are fully cooked, and the sauce sticks to the noodles and is all magical. Plate your pasta and top with fresh ricotta and a drizzle of chili oil— we recommend Ben’s chili crisp: chili oil with crispy garlic and shallots—salty, spicy, and crispy!
When the pandemic began, Chef Ben Kramer spearheaded the local chapter of the Community Food Centres of Canada Made With Love program, converting over $150,000 in stranded food in shuttered Winnipeg restaurants into nutrient-dense meals for people who could not securely access food in the early days of the first lockdown. Since then, Made With Love has fed over 80,000 Winnipeggers—and with your support, the program can keep going! Visit Ben’s website for more info on the program and how you can support them.