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Ziti with eggplant and scamorza cheese


The Ziti pasta is a type of pasta that is very popular in italy, and growing more popular among the italian-american population. This pasta is a long and hollow cylinder and cut square on both ends.  By definition Ziti always have a smooth surface, unlike their close cousin, the penne that can be either "lisce" or "rigate".


Ingredients:

1 pound ziti pasta,
1/2 lb. scamorza cheese, grated,
2 large eggplants,
2 cans of tomatoes in pieces,
extra-virgin olive oil,
1 shallot, basil seeds,
2 bay leaves
peanut oil for frying;
salt and pepper;

Cooking Method:

A- The tomato sauce
Prepare the tomato sauce (an operation which can be done the day before), Peel and finely chop the shallots, brown them in oil for 3-4 minutes on low heat, Add the tomatoes some bay leaves and hand-chopped basil, salt and pepper and cook without lid over medium heat for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves.

B- Preparing and frying the eggplant
Prepare the eggplant: wash them and cut off their extremities, slice then thinly with a mandolin, lengthwise, place them in layers on a cutting board, sprinkle with salt and leave a weight of some sort on top of them so that they lose their water as much as possible.
Let them sit like this for at least half an hour, then rinse and dry with paper towels. Heat plenty of oil seeds in a large frying pan and fry the eggplant, a few at a time, turning on both sides, until they are slightly golden, drain and dry them on paper.

C- Assembling the dish
Preheat your oven to 350 ° F. Boil the ziti pasta in salted water until al dente and drain, season with about half the tomato sauce and a handful of grated cheese, pour in a bowl and allow to cool. Cut the scamorza cheese in slices. At this point we start to assemble the dish. Grease with a little olive oil a deep cake mold (I use a glass one), line the bottom with slices of fried eggplant, making them cling well to the bottom and edges. Cover the eggplant with a layer of ziti, placing them neatly side by side for the entire length of the mold. Then distribute the pasta over a few slices of scamorza cheese; continue with a layer of eggplant ... ... and finally with two tablespoons of tomato sauce. Repeat the layers until you use up all available ingredients, making sure to finish with an eggplant layer, covered in tomato sauce. Bake at 350° F for a quarter of an hour, churning, cool down five minutes and carefully turn upside-down your cake mold on a serving plate, so that the dish keeps its shape.

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