Cavatappi Pasta Recipe

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Cavatappi is a fun pasta. It makes great pasta dinners, salads, and more. This Cavatappi pasta is a blend of Italian flavors that work well with or without the meat.

Up close shot of the finished cavatappi pasta in a white bowl.

What Is Cavatappi Pasta?

Cavatappi is a corkscrew pasta. It’s great with just about any type of sauce and can easily be baked into casseroles, turned into soups, or made into something as simple as mac and cheese.

What Does Cavatappi Pasta Look Like?

Cavatappi noodles are corkscrew noodles. Here’s what they look like.

Dry cavatappi pasta on a white background.

How Long Does Cavatappi Take To Cook?

Cavatappi takes about 9-12 minutes to cook. I used a gluten-free version (the Banza brand – not paid to promote them, it’s just what I used) and that takes 9-11 minutes to cook.

It’s important not to overcook your pasta for a dish like this. So set a timer or check it frequently.

What Can You Use Instead Of Cavatappi Pasta?

If you don’t happen to have access to Cavatappi, there are two other pasta shapes that you can substitute in this pasta dish. They are:

  • Fusilli
  • Rigatoni
  • Macaroni

Gluten-Free Vs. Wheat Pasta

Both types of pasta will work here. But here are some tips, depending on which one you use. In both cases, you should salt your cooking water for flavor.

Gluten-Free Pasta

  1. Cook this thoroughly. In some cases, you’ll need to cook it longer than the package says to get it cooked completely. Each gluten-free pasta is different, so pay attention to it at the end of the cooking time.
  2. It’s important to stir gluten-free pasta just after adding it to the boiling water as well as during cooking.
  3. Make sure to rinse this after cooking.

Wheat Pasta

  1. Cook to package directions and timing. Do not overcook wheat-based pasta. It’s often better to cook it to an al dente texture.
  2. While you can give this a quick stir just after adding it to the pot, stirring a wheat-based pasta is not necessary and is actually discouraged during cooking.
  3. Do not rinse this pasta after cooking unless you need to cool it down fast.

If you wish, you can also save a tablespoon or two of the pasta water from either type of pasta to leave in or mix into the pasta. This will help the sauce cling to the pasta better.

Recipe Variations

  • Sausage – Either leave it out completely for a plant-based meal, or substitute with shredded chicken.
  • Turn this into a creamy Cavatappi pasta by mixing the dressing with a bit of heavy whipping cream. You can use your judgement here, but a quarter to a half a cup should be more than enough.
  • Add extra flavor to the dressing by adding a splash of white wine.
  • Stir some basil pesto into the dressing for some pesto cavatappi
  • Add mushrooms, sautéd in some garlic butter is best.
  • Add some steamed broccoli, chopped into small pieces.
  • Try cooked shrimp instead of sausage.
  • Try cooked, chopped bacon instead of sausage.
  • Add some raw or cooked zucchini.

Italian Pasta Salad

At its core, this is really an Italian pasta salad. The balsamic vinegar-based dressing mixed with fresh herbs and Italian sausage gives you a heady mix of Italian flare.

Overhead shot looking down into a large, white mixing bowl of cavatappi pasta with sausage slice, bell peppers, tomatoes and fresh herbs.

What You’ll Need

Pasta Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cavatappi pasta – I used the Banza brand pasta (not paid to promote them), but you can use any type you like. You’ll simply be cooking them to package directions anyway. So get the type you like best.
  • 12 oz. Italian sausage – I used Applegate Italian Sausage. (Not paid to promote them) It’s the cleanest, healthiest sausage I can find in these parts. The ingredient list is totally clean, so that’s a winner in my book.
  • 1 cup minced red bell pepper – This is about 1 medium red bell pepper. You don’t have to worry about this measurement being exact. Just pick up a pepper, chop it and toss it in.
  • ½ cup minced red onions – You’ll want to chop these fine. You want the onion to be a compliment to the other flavors, You never want to bite down on a mouthful of onion here. So chop it well.
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes – If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes are another choice. Basically, any small tomatoes about that size will work.
  • ⅓ cup chopped basil (or Italian parsley) – You can use either herb, or a combination of both. I used the parsley because it’s what I had on hand. But fresh basil would work equally well here. Use what you can get for the time of year.
Measuring cup holding the mixing spoons from this cavatappi pasta recipe.

Dressing Ingredients

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar – The better the vinegar, the better the dressing. But if you’re like me and can only afford the average bottle of grocery store balsamic, you can pour double the needed amount into a pot and simmer it down by half. This will improve the quality and flavor of the vinegar.

    That being said, this is totally delicious without doing that. A balsamic reduction is a personal choice in this recipe. I did not do this and the salad was amazingly wonderful.
  • ½ cup oil – I used liquid-state coconut oil, but most people will enjoy olive oil here. Opt for a more lightly flavored oil, regardless of the type you use.
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning – This is the dry herb mix found in the spice aisle at the grocery store. Or, you can make your own at home using this recipe for Italian Seasoning.
  • ¼ tsp. salt – I used pink Himalayan salt, but use any salt you have on hand in your kitchen.
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper – Or add to taste. This is optional, but tasty.
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder – I used garlic powder for the ease of it. But if you prefer to use fresh garlic 2 to 4 minced cloves should do the trick. I would sauté it slightly with the sausage before adding it to the pasta
  • parmesan cheese – This is optional. I didn’t use it at all, but it would be delicious if you want to use it. Simply sprinkle some on as a garnish at serving.

How To Make This Cavatappi Pasta Recipe

This delicious salad is easy to make and works great as either a side dish or a main course.

Served as a main course, a green salad with some Italian dressing would be a great companion.

To make this dish:

Set water to boil with salt added to water.

Fill a large pot with water. To the pot, add 1 tbsp. salt and set to boil. Cook the pasta to package directions using the saltwater. Drain the pasta and transfer to a mixing bowl. Note that if you are using gluten-free pasta, you’ll want to rinse it after cooking. If using regular pasta, do not rinse it. Simply drain.

While it cooks, you’ll want to slice and sauté your sausages in a bit of oil.

Cooked Cavatappi pasta in a large white mixing bowl.

Once the pasta is fully cooked (do not overcook!), strain it well and transfer it to a large mixing bowl

Onions added to the pasta.

To the pasta add onions…

Sautéd sausage added to the pasta.

Add cooked and sliced sausages to the pasta.

Fresh herbs added to the cavatappi pasta.

Add the chopped fresh herbs next.

Chopped red bell peppers added to the bowl of pasta.

Now add the chopped bell peppers and…

Fresh, halved cherry tomatoes added to the pasta.

… lastly, the halved cherry or grape tomatoes.

Making the dressing by adding equal parts oil and vinegar to a mixing container.

For the dressing, combine the oil and vinegar.

Add garlic powder…

Garlic powder added to the dressing.
Italian Seasoning added to the dressing.

… Italian seasoning…

Salt added to the dressing.

… salt…

Ground black pepper added to the dressing.

… and pepper.

Mixing all the ingredients of the dressing for this cavatappi pasta.

Stir well to combine.

The dressing poured into the bowl of pasta.

Pour the dressing over the pasta.

Mixing the cavatappi pasta to coat in dressing.

Toss to coat everything in the dressing.

Side view of a large white mixing bowl filled with this cavataoppi pasta recipe.

Serve garnished with parmesan cheese if you so wish.

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Cavatappi Pasta Recipe

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Up close shot of the finished cavatappi pasta in a white bowl.

Cavatappi Pasta

A delicious pasta salad that works as a main meal or side dish.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 10 cups
Calories: 326kcal
Author: The Gracious Pantry

CLICK TO WATCH THIS RECIPE IN ACTION!

Ingredients

Pasta

  • 8 oz. cavatappi pasta
  • 12 oz. Italian sausage
  • 1 cup minced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup minced red onions
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • cup chopped basil (or italian parsley)

Dressing

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup oil (I used coconut, but most people will enjoy olive oil here)
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder

Garnish

  • parmesan cheese to taste

Instructions

  • Fill a large pot with water. To the pot, add 1 tbsp. salt and set to boil. Cook the pasta to package directions using the salt water.
    While it cooks, you'll want to slice and sauté your sausages in a bit of oil.
    Set water to boil with salt added to water.
  • Once the pasta is fully cooked (do not overcook!), strain it well and transfer to a large mixing bowl
    Cooked Cavatappi pasta in a large white mixing bowl.
  • To the pasta add the onions.
    Onions added to the pasta.
  • Add cooked and sliced sausages to the pasta.
    Sautéd sausage added to the pasta.
  • Add the chopped fresh herbs next.
    Fresh herbs added to the cavatappi pasta.
  • Now add the chopped bell peppers.
    Chopped red bell peppers added to the bowl of pasta.
  • Lastly, the halved cherry or grape tomatoes.
    Fresh, halved cherry tomatoes added to the pasta.
  • For the dressing, combine the oil and vinegar.
    Making the dressing by adding equal parts oil and vinegar to a mixing container.
  • Add garlic powder.
    Garlic powder added to the dressing.
  • Stir in Italian seasoning.
    Italian Seasoning added to the dressing.
  • Add salt.
    Salt added to the dressing.
  • Lastly, stir in ground black pepper.
    Ground black pepper added to the dressing.
  • Stir well to combine.
    Mixing all the ingredients of the dressing for this cavatappi pasta.
  • Pour the dressing over the pasta.
    The dressing poured into the bowl of pasta.
  • Toss to coat everything in the dressing.
    Mixing the cavatappi pasta to coat in dressing.
  • Serve garnished with parmesan cheese if you so wish.
    The finished Cavatappi Pasta Recipe in a white serving bowl.

Notes

Please note that the nutrition data below is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.

Nutrition

Calories: 326kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 304mg | Potassium: 239mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This looks heavenly! I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks so much for sharing!

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