Pasta con Cavolo Rapa e Pomodoro (Pasta with Kohlrabi and Tomato Sauce)

By Chef Angela Agolino from Scicli, in Sicily.

This recipe is not just simple and delicious; it also celebrates the power of networking! We met chef Angela through the kind Francesca, a local connection who works in hospitality in the area of Scicli. While we were with our group near Scicli on a villa-based tour, Chef Angela cooked for us one truly unforgettable dinner...


In Sicilian, this recipe is called "pasta cavuli e pummaroru." In Italian, cavolo means "cabbage" whereas cavolo rapa indicates "kohlrabi" specifically, the featured ingredient in this mouth-watering sauce.


Chef Angela uses only semolina flour for her home-made tagliatelle, but feel free to experiment. (Adding all-purpose flour will make the pasta dough a little easier to knead.) Additionally, you can make your sauce with kohlrabi only (Italians use the term "in white" to indicate when tomato is omitted).


Enjoy this dish on our tours in Sicily or try it at home as a delicious expression of the simplicity of Mediterranean cuisine!


Ingredients for kohlrabi sauce:

  • 1 whole kohlrabi
  • 3 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 gallon water to boil the kohlrabi (conserve it for boiling the pasta as well)
  • 1.5 Tbsp salt for the water


  • Wash and cut the kohlrabi into small cubes
  • Boil in slightly-salted water until cooked, drain (keep the water for the pasta) and set aside
  • Sauté garlic (finely minced or whole, your choice) in EVOO in a pan until it is lightly browned
  • Add the boiled kohlrabi and sauté for a few minutes
  • Adjust with salt to taste 


Ingredients for tomato sauce:

  • 4 fresh tomatoes or 1 can crushed tomatoes (Angela uses husband Bartolo's home-grown/home-made tomato sauce!)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp EVOO
  • 3 leaves of basil
  • salt to taste



  • Blend tomatoes in a food processor
  • Sauté garlic (finely minced or whole, your choice) in EVOO in a pan until it is lightly browned
  • Add blended tomatoes, basil, and cook it down until the sauce thickens
  • Adjust with salt 


Ingredients for homemade pasta for 4 people:

  • 500 grams (3 cups) semolina aka durum wheat flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 130 grams water (1 cup) for the dough
  • 1 gallon water (already salted when used to boil the kohlrabi)



  • Make a small "mountain" with the flour and then a "little crater" in the middle
  • Beat the eggs and then pour them into the crater
  • Add the water and continue to mix with a fork. Then knead to get your dough
  • Adjust consistency–i.e. add another egg (or water) if too dry; more flour if too moist
  • Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, wrapped in a cloth
  • Quarter the dough and roll out each of your 4 pieces with a rolling pin on a wooden board. Wood helps to obtain a rougher surface of the pasta, which can better hold the sauce. (Unless you use a kneader you will surely realize how tiring it is to achieve a very thin layer of dough using just a rolling pin!)
  • When rolling, if needed, keep dusting your dough with flour to keep it from sticking
  • When the dough is thin enough (knowing comes with experience; if done by hand, ~1mm is a good result), cover it with flour once more, and roll it up into a log
  • Once rolled, press down gently to create a flat enough surface to cut into "slices" for your tagliatelle (thinner strips make tagliolini; wider strips make pappardelle)
  • With fingers, unbundle the tagliatelle and let them dry on a tray with more flour dusted over the top (see picture below)
  • Bring the water to a fresh boil (same water used to boil the kohlrabi) 
  • Throw in the pasta and watch carefully—drain as soon as the noodles start to float
  • If you have extra tagliatelle, you can freeze in a bag for your next meal


Final steps to assemble the dish:

  • Mix the tomato and kohlrabi sauces together in a large pan over medium heat
  • Pour your drained pasta in and mix together with your sauce (or enjoy "in white" with kohlrabi sauce only) for a minute or so in order to combine all the ingredients 
  • Serve on individual plates


Buon appetito!



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