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Gnocchi With Eggplants

This is a traditional Tuscan recipe for gnocchi which I learnt at a cooking school in Florence. It has much less flour than the regular versions, making it lighter. You can pair it with any sauce you like. Here, I have served it in a southern Italian style with fresh tomatoes and eggplants. I also like tossing it with a light pesto thinned down with some good extra virgin olive oil.

If you have bought extra eggplant, you can use the leftovers in these dishes:

Check out these Italian recipes:

What you need for the basic gnocchi:

500 gms potatoes (boiled or steamed)

150 gms white flour (maida)

1/2 an egg

1 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Making the basic gnocchi:

1. Boil the potatoes and drain while they are hot. Hold them with a kitchen towel and peel. Mash the potatoes with a potato ricer or just grate them. It is important that the potatoes be warm, for the dough to be fluffy.

2. Sieve the flour over the potatoes, season with salt and pepper.

3. Whisk an egg in a bowl. Make a well in the center of the potato flour mix and add half the egg.

4. With a spoon, gradually mix in bit of flour mixture with the egg and then bring it together with your hands into a bowl of dough. Knead lightly on a floured surface. If your dough is too wet, add a little more flour to make it manageable.

5. Take small pieces of the dough and roll out lengthwise into a cylinder. Keep flouring the surface and your hands

6. Cut the dough into four parts. Roll out lengthwise into a cylinder. Cut pieces of equal size with a floured knife.

7. Arrange the gnocchi on a floured platter keeping some distance between them to avoid sticking together.

8. Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling hot water (like you cook regular pasta). When ready, they will float on top

9. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and add directly to the pan with your choice of sauce and other ingredients.

10. If you would like to make the gnocchi ahead of time, you can freeze them. Complete step 4 and freeze the fresh gnocchi on flat trays for up to a couple of weeks. To cook, simply boil the gnocchi directly (do not thaw). It still tastes amazing!

The Fresh Tomatoes and Eggplant Sauce

What you need:

8 fresh tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

6 large garlic cloves

Fresh basil leaves

1 eggplant, diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Chilli flakes, if you like

Parmesan cheese, grated (to garnish)

Making the sauce:

1. Boil the tomatoes for about 10 mins and then rinse with cold water to stop cooking further

2. Remove the skin and dice roughly

3. Heat a pan and add olive oil. Smash the garlic cloves gently and add to the hot oil until golden. Remove garlic.

4. Add tomatoes, 5-6 basil leaves, seasoning and chili flakes, if using. Cook on a low flame for 10-15 mins until you have a thick, chunky sauce. Stir occasionally.

5. In another pan, sauté the diced eggplant in olive oil until browned. Season lightly.

6. When the sauce is ready, add the cooked eggplants. Save some to add on top later. It is up to you to decide the ratio of sauce to eggplant.

Putting it all together:

Boil the gnocchi and add directly to the warm sauce in the pan. Gently toss and spoon onto the serving plates. Top with some more eggplants, grated parmesan cheese, chopped basil leaves and freshly ground pepper.

Alternatively, you can also use the POMODORO sauce.

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