Scamorza is a cheese from southern Italy that is often smoked, and it is this smoked variety that is the star of this recipe. You can think of it as smoked mozzarella. I had picked up this scamorza without deciding what to do with it. Then as its ‘best before’ date was approaching, I decided that I better think of something and then I figured that I would make a simple pasta dish with other flavors from southern Italy: eggplant and tomatoes. The result was excellent and certainly worth repeating. The combination of the smoky scamorza with the sweetness of the lightly roasted tomatoes and the nice flavor of the roasted eggplant worked very well. Here’s what I did…
2 medium eggplant
150 grams (.33 lb) penne pasta
250 grams (.55 lb) cherry tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
freshly ground black pepper
Put a plate on top of the eggplant and something heavy on top of that, and wait for about an hour until the eggplant has released a lot of its juices. This makes the eggplant easier to cook and it will lose some of its bitter flavor. You could also skip this step altogether.
Meanwhile, dice the scamorza and cut the cherry tomatoes in halves (check out this post for a trick to do that very quickly).
Preheat the oven to 225ºC/440ºF (fan forced).
Roast the eggplant for about 15 minutes at 225ºC/440ºF (fan forced).
Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast at 225ºC/440ºF (fan forced) for another 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant starts to brown and the tomatoes start to wrinkle.
Meanwhile, cook the penne in boiling salted water according to package instructions.
Put the oiled pasta in the baking dish (or arrange it on oven proof plates).
We enjoyed this with a red Sancerre, a pinot noir based wine from the Loire valley that, in this case, was unoaked, fruity, and smoky. The latter two qualities are important to go with the scamorza (smoky) and tomatoes (fruity). A pinot noir (or Spätburgunder) in a similar smoky fruity style from another region such as Germany, Alsace, New Zealand would also be great.
Two years ago I made truffle, shallot and leek risotto, inspired by a dish by Osteria Francescana in Modena. I then made it with dried truffle, but is of course an ever bigger treat with a proper fresh truffle.