Wish Upon A Dish: Sesame Asian Chickadeels ♥ Marco Polo would be sooooo happy, just ask his wife.

September 8, 2014

Sesame Asian Chickadeels ♥ Marco Polo would be sooooo happy, just ask his wife.

Yes, Broccoli and Cavatelli was always called cavadeels in my house and from what I have read in many Italian food blogs, it's the same in almost every Italian household across America. How cool is that, you may ask? but I want to know how that is possible?
My grandparents are from Naples & Rome and maybe to an eight and 11 year old, their heavy accent sounded like cavadeels to us, but what about Italian immigrants that were from the north or even better, Sicily?

Do all Italian accents sound the same? Do they in the US? All countries no matter where in the world, have accents relative to their immediate area (here it's counties), just like the south and even NYC.

So how is it possible that the majority of second generation Italian immigrants call the same dish by the same regional name? 

Turns out even in Italy this pasta has several different names depending on the dialect : cavadeel, gavateel, cavatelli.
This part is the best..............
There is a legend surrounding cavatelli, about a bride to be who had her thumb inspected by her future mother-in law. Do you want to know why? Because if the finger looked well-used and somewhat worn, it was the tell-tale sign that she knew how to make cavatelli and this would make her a great match. Talk about pressure! (no pun intended....lol)

Whatever you call it in your house, cavatelli and broccoli is one of the most loved and sustainable dishes of just about anyone that has eaten it and I swear it was our ramen of many budget twenty-year-olds, in their first apartment. I confess that this was the dinner of choice when I entertained boyfriends for dinner and this is what I served. Not only delicious but extremely affordable. Back then, only Italians knew the secret to what made this dish irresistible and made me a cook a Mother in Law could love. Ever hear of engagement chicken? This was mine.

Just when you think it was safe to go back into the kitchen, there is the discussion of exactly how to prepare this dish. Like the name, the preparation was just as different. Cooks from the south cook the broccoli until it turns into a semi-sauce. I just think that's too long. The Tuscans like their veggies crisp and the northerners add cream and butter to the olive oil (I tried to once, than happily changed my mind). The Southerners use sheep's milk hard cheeses (Pecorino), while the rest of Italy favor cow's milk (Parmesan).
What ever way you think your family would like this, that's the way you make yours, as long as there is enough garlic to kill a vampire!!
Yes, you can crush them and remove them after cooking (just don't let me know, please), but I will bet if you do that, you've never had the pleasure of having this prepared by an Italian.

I make my basic cavadeels by cooking the broccoli in olive oil with sliced garlic until a knife slides in and out of the stem easily. I then season with salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes. Toss the cooked cavatelli into the pan (with a few spoonfuls of pasta cooking water), toss to coat, shut off the heat and spoon the grated cheese over the pasta while tossing. If there is no longer any moisture in the pan, add more of the pasta cooking water to the pan and serve immediately. Easy peasy!
I like garlic in this dish as much as I love tons of cheese. Something about broccoli and cheese, yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Even with all this chatter about traditional cavadeels, I thought I would tip the apple cart and add an Asian spin. Yup, you read this right.

Please forgive me Nonna, but a cooks gotta do what a cooks gotta do, right?
I did not mess with it too much. I kept to the simplicity of the dish itself, but I add chicken, a Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (instead of the hot pepper flakes) soy sauce (instead of the salty cheese) and sesame oil (in addition to the olive oil). The rest is the same.Yes, that means all the garlic stays the same!!

OMG, this was an awesome rendition. The best part? I had a side of broccoli for one dinner and enough for a second. Nonna would call that smart.

If you make any changes to this dish, do not change the type of pasta. Try to find the frozen fresh cavatelli (my store sells Celantano). I honestly think the dried version adds nothing to the finished texture of the dish. I would prefer you to use Orecchiette or Campanelli instead of the dried cavatelli.
I wonder if we should call this version Sesame Asian Chicka-deels?  heehee

Yes Nonna, I will promise 5 Hail Mary's but I swear, it was really really good!!

Asian Sesame Chicken Cavatelli
makes 4 servings

* 1 package frozen fresh cavatelli
* 20 ounces broccoli, cut into spears
* 1 large boneless chicken breast, cooked and cut into 2-inch fingers
* 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
* 2 tablespoon Red Thai-Style Chili Sauce
* 1/4 cup light soy sauce
* 2 teaspoons sesame oil
* 1/4 cup EVOO
* 1 tablespoon salt for pasta cooking water
* 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water
* 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
* Freshly ground black pepper
* Toasted sesame seeds, garnish optional

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Cook pasta for 9 minutes, but not all the way through.
3. In a saute pan (with a lid), heat the olive oil and the sesame oil. Add the broccoli, cover and saute for 4 minutes. Add a tablespoon water, cover again and steam for 3 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, chili sauce, a drop of fresh sesame oil and the pasta. Toss to coat. Add the chicken and cheese and toss to combine. Add pasta water to keep the ingredients flowing.
5. Check for seasoning. Right before serving sprinkle on sesame seeds.

OMG, this was excellent. Tons of flavor and the cavatelli was right at home. I will make this many times. The Nudge gave it two thumbs up and cleaned his bowl.

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