Capunti are a rustic, hand-formed pasta from Puglia (at the heel of Italy’s boot!) that resemble the inside of a pea pod. The deep ridges in the center—made with a simple flick of your fingers—perfectly capture this especially rich and luxurious roasted garlic sauce. The addition of fermented Japanese miso paste lends a level of complexity to the dish that is deeply savory, a little tangy, and a touch sweet (read more about the important cultural tradition of miso, plus how to make it at home). Plus, when mixed into the sauce, it adds to the overall creaminess—think buttery, salty garlic bread in pasta form.
Capunti, which means “dug into,” are equipment-free and family-friendly, making them a great place to start when making pasta from scratch.
Note: To make your pasta dough using the well method, see my tutorial here. —Meryl Feinstein, Pasta Social Club
Test Kitchen Notes
Pasta Social Club is a column by Meryl Feinstein, Food52's Resident Pasta Maker, community builder, and pastaia extraordinaire. Meryl will teach us about everything from semolina to spaghetti to sauce—and will show us how pasta is a great way to make great friends and have lots of fun. —The Editors
- Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 2 to 4
- For the pasta
(2 cups) semolina or semola rimacinata flour
(2/3 cup) very warm water
More semolina flour, polenta, or coarse cornmeal, for dusting
- For the sauce
large heads of garlic (yes, you read that right)
unsalted butter, divided
white miso paste
pasta water, reserved (you won't use all of it but it's good to keep around)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
flat leaf parsley and fresh rosemary, for garnish (optional)
Roast the garlic
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the tops off of the garlic heads crosswise to expose the cloves. Place each bulb, cut side up, on its own piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Tightly wrap the bulbs individually and place on a baking sheet, cut side up. Roast until caramelized and tender, about 40 to 45 minutes. In the meantime, make the pasta dough.
When the garlic is done and cooled slightly, squeeze the softened cloves out of the bulbs into a small bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth, then add the miso and combine into a paste. Set aside.
Make the pasta dough
Make a batch of durum wheat flour and water pasta dough according to the well method (see author note above for my master pasta dough tutorial that teaches you how).
Alternatively, add the flour to the bowl of a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the machine running, stream in the water until beads of dough start to form, then pulse the mixture until a coarse couscous-like texture emerges. Transfer the dough to a flat, ideally wooden surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and firm.
Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.
Make the pasta
Dust a baking sheet or dish towel with a layer of semolina flour (or coarse cornmeal or polenta) and keep it nearby.
On a wooden surface, cut off a small piece (about a fifth) of the dough with a bench scraper or sharp knife. Immediately re-wrap the remaining dough in the plastic wrap to avoid drying out. Roll the piece of dough into a long rope, about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the rope into roughly 1-inch pieces.
To form the capunti, roll each piece back and forth between your hands while putting more pressure on the ends so they become tapered. Alternatively, place each piece horizontally on the board and roll the ends a bit thinner than the center—you’re going for the pea pod look!
Next, with the piece of tapered dough resting on the board horizontally, line up your three middle fingers across the thicker center, leaving the tapered ends intact. Dig your fingers into the dough, then drag it towards you in a single, confident motion. The dough should flip over and have a deep imprint of your fingers. It may take a few tries to get the pressure right—don’t be shy, this dough is resilient. And the more firmly you drag the dough, the more hollow it will be to catch the sauce!
Place each finished piece of capunti on the sheet tray or dish towel and repeat the process with the remaining dough.
If the dough is sliding around on the board, coat the surface in a very small amount of water to get the friction you need. If it’s sticking to the board, dust the dough and your fingers in a little flour to get it moving.
Finish the sauce
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Finely chop a handful of parsley and mince the leaves of a couple of sprigs of rosemary. Set aside.
In a large saute pan next to the boiling water, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and miso mixture, breaking it up with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and stirring until smooth and homogenous. Reduce heat to low.
Add a generous amount of salt to the boiling water and allow it to dissolve for a few seconds. Follow with the capunti, making sure to shake off any excess coarse flour before dropping the pasta into the water. (Don’t dump the contents of the entire tray into the water or you may end up with porridge!)
While the pasta cooks, which takes about 3 to 5 minutes, bring the sauce up to medium-high. Add a small ladle of the pasta cooking water to the pan with the miso and garlic mixture and stir vigorously to combine. Follow with the cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and stir again into a uniform and glossy mixture. Reduce heat to medium and simmer briefly to thicken, stirring often, and season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce gets very thick, add a little more pasta water to thin it out.
Taste the pasta for doneness. When it’s cooked to your liking, transfer it directly to the pan of sauce with a slotted spoon. Toss to coat and cook for an additional minute, stirring, to meld the flavors. Serve immediately, topped with the parsley and rosemary.
If you want to store some or all of the capunti for a later date, freeze them on the coarse-floured baking sheet, making sure they’re not touching each other, until solid (about an hour). Then dust off any excess flour from the bottoms and transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or air-tight container. The frozen pasta will keep well for a couple of weeks and up to a couple of months.