A creamy cheesy sauce made of potatoes and lightly smoked Scamorza cheese. This one-pot pasta dish is a perfect comforting and easy weeknight dinner. Pasta e Patate it's a traditional Italian recipe from the South of Italy. It can be made with only pasta and potatoes or with the addition of Provola cheese.
The origin of this dish comes from Naples, around the 17th century. Just like most of the Italian traditional dishes, it starts as a peasant recipe that is accessible to all thanks to its cheap and simple ingredients.
The traditional pasta and potatoes dish uses mixed pasta (all kinds of pasta shapes mixed together). As an emblem of its poor origins, it was the norm to reuse scraps and leftover of pasta. Nowadays big brands also sell boxes of mixed pasta to make this dish or other Southern pasta dishes.
If you cannot find the mixed pasta shapes, you can use your own pasta scraps to clear out all those half-empty boxes. But be careful of the different cooking times, use similar cooking times shapes or remember to toss them in the water at different times. Or you can use a single pasta shape, better if it's a small shape.
During the years, the recipe expanded through the Southern regions of Italy, creating also new versions: with bacon, with cheese, with tomatoes, or baked.
My version is not the traditional version because I'm from Tuscany so I don't have a family recipe to share. But I made my own version by looking at many recipes online.
What's the difference between Provola and Scamorza?
One of the most famous versions of Pasta e Patate is the "Pasta Patate e Provola", Pasta with potatoes, and Provola cheese. This is the version I was most inspired from.
Outside of Italy, it's rather difficult to find Provola. Sometimes I found Provolone which is from the same family but it's much bigger, so it's usually sold in slices. This time I could only find a good smoked Scamorza in a local Italian market, so I took it.
Provola and Scamorza are both stretched curd cheese made with cow's milk or in some cases goat's milk or even buffalo's milk. The flavor is quite sweet and delicate and you can find them also in a lightly smoked version. They are very similar in texture, taste, and shape. The famous pear shape makes it recognizable everywhere since it's small enough to be sold whole.
So, the answer is, the difference is in the making process. Scamorza is made with semi-raw milk and has an extra stewing process at the end. But the main characteristics are pretty much the same so you can interchange them in recipes with no problems. Read more about Scamorza at this link.
"Pasta e Patate" - Pasta with Potatoes and Scamorza cheese
- 10.5 oz (2 medium or 1 large) Starchy Potatoes
- 1 tablespoon Soffritto or Minced Onion, read notes for details
- 6.3 oz dried Pasta
- ½ teaspoon Concentrated Tomato paste
- 2.8 oz (about 3 slices) Smoked Scamorza cheese or Provola cheese
- 2 cups Water
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- Black Pepper
- A pinch Rosemary
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into small dices of about 1 cm (½ inch).
- Add the olive oil and butter in a large pan and turn on the heat. Add the potatoes and the soffritto (or onion) and sautèe for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste, salt, black pepper and rosemary, then add the pasta to the pan and add all the water at once.
- Bring to a boil than turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes uncovered, so both the pasta and potatoes are fully cooked. If the water did not reduce to a creamy sauce, turn up the heat and cook another 5 minutes. If instead it reduced too much, add a few more tablespoons of water.
- After the cooking time, add the diced Scamorza cheese to the pan and mix well until it's fully melted into the sauce.
- Season again with salt and black pepper if needed and serve immediately.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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I can’t wait to try this tonight! I just wonder.. how does the pasta not get overcooked?
Hi Amalija, when cooked directly in a sauce, pasta takes a bit longer to cook, compared to boiling it directly. But it also very much depends on the pasta quality so keep checking it and adjust the cooking time until both pasta and potatoes are fully cooked. I hope you'll like it!