Cavatelli With Braised Sauerkraut 4.000

Renee Comet for The Washington Post

Plate Lab Apr 11, 2014

Chef Michael Friedman's cavatelli dish looks soothing and simple, but braised sauerkraut and a mustard-spiked mascarpone give it bursts of brightness. He serves it at Red Hen in the District's Bloomingdale neighborhood with bacon and without.

When he recently moved the dish from the restaurant's winter menu to spring, he added fresh peas. Look for an all-natural sauerkraut with few ingredients such as Bubbies brand, or the locally produced No. 1 Sons.

Make Ahead: The onion-sauerkraut mixture and the mascarpone mixture can be refrigerated for up to a week; bring them both to room temperature before using.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups drained sauerkraut (see headnote)
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for the pasta cooking water
  • 8 ounces dried cavatelli pasta, or other hearty pasta, such as orecchiette
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives


Pour the oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the sauerkraut; reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauerkraut has softened but hasn't become mushy, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat; cover to keep warm.

Whisk together the mascarpone, mustard and salt in a small bowl.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook for a minute or two shorter than the package directions, until not quite al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

Return the sauerkraut mixture to medium heat. Add the pasta along with 1/2 cup of its cooking water, stirring to combine. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and butter. Cook briefly, adding the remaining reserved cooking water as needed to form a creamy sauce.

Divide among shallow bowls. Spoon a dollop of the mascarpone mixture on each portion, then sprinkle the chives over the top. Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from chef Michael Friedman of Red Hen in Bloomingdale.

Tested by Joe Yonan.

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