cheesy tomato eggplant gobbetti (cavatappi!)

There are lots of different pasta shapes in Italy and even more names for them from regional differences, but gobbetti seem to be unique in the US marketplace as a longer helical twisting macaroni. Gobbo is the Italian word for "hunchback", while "etto" is an Italian suffix meaning "to indicate smallness or express affection or endearment", so gobbetto must mean little hunchback, in an affectionate way? Only Whole Foods seems to carry this brand and this particular product, which in bob's mind seemed appropriate for hugging a thick sauce in its winding tubes, the idea of elbow macaroni only better because of the extra curls. Of course, realizing that this is some pet name for a more familiar pasta called "cavatappi" which means (liberal translation) "corkscrew" makes the internet search a lot more effective. Nonstandard naming runs rampant in the pasta world.

We had just successfully used fontina cubetti (little cubes) in a risotto recipe, and a web recipe suggested

in progress


1 lb gobbetti = cavatappi pasta
2 medium eggplants, preferably narrow (fat ones have more seeds)
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
a sprinkling of red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, pressed (we were out, and used garlic powder)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t sugar
1/2 c grated pecorino romano
2 oz fontina, cubed into 1/4 in sided cubes, about 1/3 - 1/2 c, the more the merrier
salt and freshly ground black pepper
some fresh basil leaves, torn


  1. Cut up the eggplants roughly into 5/8-3/4 inch cubes.
  2. Sauté the onion and leek mixture in olive oil in a large nonstick chef's pan until softened, then toss in the eggplant with the red pepper flakes and brown it, adding in the pressed garlic towards the end so it does not burn.
  3. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, allspice and sugar and simmer together for about 10 minutes, maybe more until it thickens a bit.
  4. Meanwhile start the pasta water boiling and when ready, salt it and toss in the pasta. Begin timing according to the package when it starts boiling again.
  5. Cube the fontina, maybe 1/2 cup. Grate the pecorino.
  6. Check the sauce for salt and pepper (ani specializes in this for me, I always say, "Not too much salt!").
  7. Drain the al dente pasta and return to the pot off the heat. Add in most of the sauce but reserve some to add to individual portions as served.
  8. Mix in the cheeses and basil, if you have it.
  9. Top each serving with a little hit of the sauce, and grate some more cheese over it and grind some pepper too.
  10. Serve.


  1. Bionaturae organic pasta, imported from Italy. Chosen by a blind American Test Kitchen tasting as the best 100 percent whole wheat pasta on the market in 2011. Remember whole wheat does not mean 100 percent whole wheat, only that the largest ingredient by quantity  is whole wheat, while multigrain only means more than one grain is used, all of which can be refined (not whole).
  2. gobbetti = cavatappi, a realization made possible thanks to the chance encounter shared by occasional dinner guest tim with a web page link to the book Pasta by Design by Architect George Legendre [amazon] with cavatappi illustrated as one of the 6 examples.
  3. gobbetti = cavatappi  = cellantani = serpentini = trivelle = stortelli = spirali = tortiglione = amori, seems to be an extreme example of multile named pasta.
  4. Guiliano (son of Marcella) Hazan's eggplant pasta idea slightly reconfigured with fontina cheese in place of mozzarella by a wine newsletter writer (after a google search), together with our happy use of fontina a few days before, gave us the idea of using fontina in this recipe.
  5. Illustrations available.
gobbetti.htm: 2-sep-2012 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]