Chopped & Screwed Cavatappi

This recipe was created by Pappa Razzi's. Original recipe is posted here via Providence Journal. Makes 4 servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 ounces of high quality, imported Italian cavatappi (short noodle) pasta, such as DiCecco
  • 2 tablespoons 100 percent pure olive oil (to saute eggplant)
  • 1 cup top quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sauteed and pressed eggplant (see method below)
  • 1 pound diced ripe plum tomatoes (diced 1/4-inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon slivered garlic (sliced very thin)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (rough cut)
  • 1 pound smoked mozzarella cheese (diced 1/8-inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon course black pepper
  • 1 cup grated fresh romano cheese

METHOD:

Day 1: Prepare the Eggplant
1. Peel and dice eggplant to inch cubes.
2. Place in a colander, sprinkle with kosher salt and top with a weighted pie plate or metal mixing bowl.
3. Place in refrigerator with a pan under the colander to catch the released liquid.

NOTE: The 24-hour pressing of the egglant is important for releasing the natural bitterness of the eggplant, therefore enhancing the taste and texture of the Cavatappi Affumicati.

Day 2: Approximately three hours before you plan to serve your guests, marinate the slivered garlic, fresh basil, plum tomatoes, salt and black pepper in the 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil.

  • Remove eggplant from the colander, discard liquid and pat eggplant dry with a paper towel.
  • In a medium saute pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of 100 percent pure olive oil to smoking point (do not use the extra virgin olive oil here as it has a lower temperature smoking point) and saute the eggplant until golden brown.
  • Drain on paper towel and set aside.
     
  • In a large saucepan, cook the cavatappi for 5-7 minutes until al dente in 6 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water.
  • While pasta is cooking, assemble the sauce.
  • In a large saute pan, heat the eggplant for approximately 1 minute before adding the marinated tomato, garlic, basil mixture.
  • Use medium heat for 2-3 minutes until ingredients are heated through (and the tomatoes are still firm).
  • At the last minute, when you are ready to serve, add the smoked mozzarella and toss in the drain and cooked cavatappi. Add 2 tablespoons of pasta water and check seasonings.
  • Place in a warm serving bowl and garnish with fresh grated romano cheese.
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Susanna Arntzz