What is Cavatappi?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Cavatappi is a type of macaroni, or thick, hollow pasta that is made without using eggs. This food is normally in the shape of a spiral. It sometimes has grooves or ridges, known as rigati, on the outer surface. It may be yellow in color, like most pastas, or have a food coloring added to make it green or red. It can be used in a variety of dishes to include salads, soups, and casseroles.

This name of this ingredient is thought to be derived from the Italian phrase "Cava Tappi" which means corkscrew. It is also referred to as cellantani, double elbow macaroni, or spirali. In the United States, it is sometimes sold in a box labeled scoobi doo, a name is derived from a famous cartoon character.

The shape of a cavatappi noodle is thought to aid in holding in the flavor of many types of dressings or sauces. It might also taste good with condiments that have an oil base to them, such as mayonnaise. Creamy or meat-based sauces normally compliment the taste of this pasta as well.

Macaroni that has a coloring added is often used in making pasta salads. These might have a vinegar-and-oil dressing or be coated with mayonnaise. There could also be olives, pepperoni, diced tomatoes, or various other ingredients added to such a dish. The colored noodles are often chosen because they compliment the appearance of these additional ingredients.


A number of soups, including chili, can be made using cavatappi. When paired in this way, the pasta normally allows the flavor of the beans and meat to be enjoyed, while giving this dish a bit of texture. It usually picks up the taste of a broth as well.

This pasta is normally cooked by placing a pot of water on the stove at medium heat and allowing it to boil. The cavatappi can then be added to the boiling water and covered, loosely, with a lid. It should be allowed to cook for around 10 to 15 minutes. A person might want to stir this macaroni from time to time, to keep it from sticking to the pot.

Cavatappi is normally cooked completely when it is soft but not mushy. Once it is finished, the water can be drained by pouring the noodles into a colander, or kitchen strainer. This device resembles a bowl, but has holes in it to allow the water to run through. The pasta can then be rinsed with tap water to remove some of the starchiness, if desired.

This type of pasta is sold in most grocery stores. It is usually easy to make, even for beginning cooks. People who enjoy creating their own unique recipes could develop a variety of new dishes by using cavatappi.


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