Originating some time during the Italian renaissance in northern Italy, capellini is a similar shape as the well-known spaghetti, but makes up only around a third of the latter's thickness. Capellini, meaning ‘little hairs’ is often seen as being synonymous with the pasta shape, capelli d’angelo which literally translates as ‘angel hair’. The distinction between these pasta shapes is a matter of millimetres, literally, the diameter of capellini varies from 0.85 to 0.92 millimetres whereas the diameter for capelli d’angelo varies between 0.78 to 0.88 millimetres. Although less common, capellini can be found in a variety of colours, often dyed with beetroot or spinach juice to add vibrancy, or squid ink to create a striking black hue.
Unlike spaghetti, both capellini and capelli d’angelo are incredibly frangible, so you will often find the dried versions packaged in tidy nests to minimise any damage. Their intricate thinness also means that the cooking time is heavily reduced and seeing as we want to always keep the pasta perfectly al dente, it is strongly recommended that you keep a close eye on the delicate strands as they cook!
Best served with:
Due to the fragile nature of this pasta shape, it is traditionally served with lighter recipes in the sense of both taste and texture. For example, it is delicious served in soups or broths or light, olive oil-based pasta sauces like Aglio e Olio or a simple Roasted Tomato Sauce. Capenelli is also amazing when served with seafood, particularly the squid ink version paired with our Venetian Seafood Recipe.
How to make capellini
Although it is a much fiddlier shape to make by hand and requires a specific capellini attachment for the pasta machine, nothing will ever beat freshly made pasta, so why not give it a go? Watch the below video to have chef Roberta take you through how to make traditional egg pasta dough sand then follow the below method to make your delightful capellini pasta.
Capellini Pasta Attachment
Round stemmed wooden spoon
200g 00 Flour
- First make your egg pasta dough.
- Next using the pasta machine, create the pasta sheets or sfoglie.
- Once you have prepared your dough, slide on the capellini attachment onto the pasta machine, ensuring it is properly secured.
- Carefully feed each sfoglia through the pasta attachment and as the capellini first touch the surface of your table, use the length of your wooden spoon (or any rod-shaped tool) to gently hold up the strands as the rest of the pasta is passed through the machine.
- Once you have your strands, ensure they have plenty of flour on them so they don't stick together. Then cut them to your desired length using a large, sharp knife, however, this may not be necessary, depending on how long the sfoglie were to begin with. Nest and cover your capellini to avoid the pasta from drying out too much or becoming damaged.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not take your eyes of the water as they cook VERY quickly! *TIP – ensure your sauce is already prepared before cooking your capellini.
- Carefully drain the pasta and add into to your sauce with 2-3 tablespoons of pasta water, as needed.
- Serve and enjoy, buon appetitto!
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