I made this recipe over the weekend and it came out so good. I really like the taste of the smoked mozzarella and the eggplant together. I did have to go to a couple of stores to find smoked mozzarella (I ended up finding it in the cheese section at Stop & Shop) but it was worth locating it. I have also included a recipe to make a simple tomato sauce to use in the dish, but you could use any store bought tomato sauce (although I don’t think it will taste as good).
2 medium eggplants, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
4 tablespoons of salt
A 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons of dried basil
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of dried parsley
1/2 cup of canola oil
1 pound of Cavatelli pasta
1 pound of smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
2 cups of homemade breadcrumbs (I’ve included the recipe below)
Directions: Take the cut eggplant and put in a strainer and toss with 2 tablespoons of salt and let sit for 30 minutes.
While the eggplant is sitting we can make the simple tomato sauce. Combine the can of diced tomatoes (including the liquid in the can) through the dried parsley from the above list in a pot. Set the temperature to medium heat until the sauce begins to boil. Once boiling set the temperature down to simmer and cover. Cook the sauce for 30 minutes which will thicken the sauce. Stir occasionally.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cook the Cavatelli pasta according to package instructions. When draining the pasta save one cup of the pasta water and set aside.
To cook the eggplant, heat the 1/2 cup of canola oil over medium heat in either a wok or a large pan. Once the oil has heated up add the eggplant and cook until it is slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Be careful that you do not crowd the pan so this may have to be done in two separate batches.
Next combine the cooked eggplant, Cavatelli pasta, tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella and basil in a large bowl. Stir to combine all ingredients. Add the cup of saved pasta water and stir again. Next take the pasta mixture and spoon it into an oven safe dish. Sprinkle the homemade breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta mixture. Cover with tin foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. After cooking for 30 minutes take the tin foil off and cook for an additional 10 minutes until the breadcrumbs are browned. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve.
To make homemade breadcrumbs take a loaf of ciabatta bread that is two or three days old and remove the crust. Place the now crustless bread into a food processor and pulse until it is nicely crumbled. Store in an airtight container and it can last for up to two months.