Pasta aumm aumm is a traditional summer recipe from the island of Capri. Made with gloriously fresh tomatoes and eggplant and locally made mozzarella cheese, it’s a perfect light dish of a hot day. Traditionally, it’s made with fried eggplant but I prepare it her with roasted eggplant to avoid the mess and cleanup of frying. I used a small countertop oven and kept the kitchen nice and cool.
Serve hot with a green salad for a perfect lunch.
- 1 medium unpeeled eggplant, ½-inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- Pinch of red pepper
- 12 cherry tomatoes or 6 small-medium tomatoes, cut in half or smaller
- 1 ball whole-milk mozzarella cheese, diced into small pieces
- 4 dry servings penne pasta (about 8 oz)
- Fresh basil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- In a colander, add the diced eggplant and liberally sprinkle with salt and toss. Let sit for 30 minutes in the sink.
- Pre-heat oven to 450℉.
- Set up a medium bowl. In batches, press the salted eggplant between paper towels to remove the accumulated moisture. Place in the bowl and coat the eggplant with olive oil (note the oil absorbs fast into the eggplant but will come out again when roasted). Add salt and pepper and toss.
- Prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and distribute the eggplant evenly.
- Roast for 30 minutes, tossing once, until golden brown. (can be made ahead)
- In a sauté pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Add a pinch of the red pepper flakes and the garlic. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes to let the garlic flavor the olive oil, then add the tomatoes.
- Cook until the tomatoes soften and begin to fall about, about 15-20 mins. You can cover the pan to speed this up,
- Cook the pasta per the package directions to “al dente”. While cooking the pasta, remove and discard the garlic from the tomato mixture and add the roasted eggplant. Gently stir to incorporate.
- When the pasta is ready, reserve some pasta water and drain.
- Setup a serving bowl and set aside. Add the pasta to the tomato-eggplant mixture and gently stir over low heat until the pasta is to you liking. If the mixture is too dry and not saucy enough for you, add a little pasta water and toss more.
- Pour the mixture into the serving bowl. Add the mozzarella and combine with the pasta. The mozzarella should just slightly melt.
- Dress with good quality olive oil if you wish and serve with some torn basil on top.