Cascatelli with Ricotta and Eggplant | A New Recipe for a New Pasta
Cascatelli pasta is a brand new pasta shape from inventor Dan Pashman, host of the Sporkful Podcast. After testing several different sauce bases, we've settled on this recipe as our favorite pairing with the new shape. Ricotta clings to and coats the pasta better than the other sauces we tried, while thin-cut fried eggplants and cherry tomatoes are naturally gripped by the cascatelli.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
Serves 2. Please note that in the video we made one serving, so quantities pictured will vary.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 10 ripe cherry tomatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 of a large eggplant (about 6 center slices)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 5.5 oz. (160g) cascatelli pasta (or subsitute with rigatoni or paccheri)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed with the skin on
- 7 oz. (200g) ricotta
- 1.75 oz. (50g) grated caciocavallo cheese (or a sharp provolone)
- Fresh basil for topping
Preheat an oven to 320 degrees F (160 C).
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and arrange over parchment paper on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and sugar. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove to cool completely.
Slice the eggplant into short spears, about 1/2-inch in width and 2-3 inches long. They should be cut so as to fit in the outer ridge of the cascatelli pasta, though keep in mind that they will shrink somewhat while frying.
Fill a saucepan with 1-2 inches of vegetable oil and bring up to a high temperature on the stovetop. To test the oil, drop a bread crumb or small piece of eggplant in. If the morsel starts to bubble immediately, the oil is hot enough to fry. Working in batches if necessary, fry the eggplant spears in the oil until they begin to brown on the edges. Remove to a paper towel with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it generously. Add the pasta. Our box of cascatelli recommended a cook time of 13 minutes, but we found that 10 was plenty for al dente pasta. In short, keep an eye on it and trust your own taste.
While the pasta boils, place the ricotta in a bowl and add 1-2 small ladlefuls of pasta water. Mix thoroughly into a thick but creamy paste and set aside.
About 4 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the garlic clove into a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to sizzle around the garlic, discard the clove and add the eggplants and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sauté while the pasta finishes to cook.
When the pasta is ready, use a slotted spoon to transfer it into the sauce skillet, along with 3-4 spoonfuls of pasta water. Turn up the heat to high and stir vigorously until the sauce completely coats the pasta.
Turn off the heat and stir in the caciocavallo and ricotta cheeses. Serve immediately and top with the baked cherry tomatoes and some fresh basil leaves. Buon appetito!