The Recipes

Gnocchi with Eggplant Ragu

I never knew I liked gnocchi until I was living in California.  I'd never had them before, didn't know what they were, and was kind of put off by the idea of a potato pasta item.  Boy, was I ever wrong!  They are just lovely little pillows of deliciousness.  Plus, you can freeze them and when you go to cook them, drop them directly into boiling water.  Just make sure you freeze them on a cookie sheet first, then dump them into plastic storage bags.


Gnocchi with Eggplant Ragu

Ingredients:

- 2 large potatoes
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 2-3 c. flour
- salt
- 1/2 small eggplant
- 1 roma tomato, diced
- 1 T. tomato paste
- 1 head of garlic, top cut off
- 1/4 c. kalamata olives, halved
- 1/4 small yellow onion, diced
- pinch of crushed red pepper
- splash of red wine
- 3 T. tomato sauce
- salt
- pepper
- olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Put the potatoes in the oven for about an hour; until they are fork tender.  Peel the potatoes and pass them through a food mill or ricer onto a paper-lined surface.  Transfer the potatoes to the refrigerator and chill completely.

Whisk together the egg and cheese.  Transfer the potatoes to a clean work surface and pour the egg over the top.  Sprinkle with salt and 1 c. of flour.  Start kneading the dough, adding in more flour until it feels moist but not sticky.

Form the dough into a rough log.  Portion off 1/4 of the dough at a time, using your palms to roll the dough out into ropes that are about 1 inch in diameter.  Cut the ropes into small, 1-1 1/2-in. pieces.  Roll each gnocchi over the back of a fork to make slight impressions.  Put the gnocchi in a single layer on a flour-dusted platter or cookie sheet.  Freeze the ones you're not using tonight.

Cut 1/2 of a small eggplant into small dice.  Scatter them on a cookie sheet, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Set the garlic cut-side up on a piece of aluminum foil.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap up the garlic in the foil.  Roast the eggplant for 30-45 minutes, and the garlic for 45 minutes to an hour.

In a large skillet, heat 1 T. of olive oil.  Add the onion, season with salt, and let it sweat for 5-6 minutes.  Add in the crushed red pepper and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the jacket into the pot.  Stir for another minute, then add in the tomato paste.  Stir to combine.  Add in the tomatoes and eggplant.  Break up the tomatoes with a spatula or potato masher.  Add in the wine and tomato sauce.  Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.  Add in the olives and cook another minute or two.

While the sauce cooks, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Season the water liberally with salt.  Drop in the gnocchi.  Remove them once they have floated to the top and puffed up slightly.  Taking them out as soon as they float will give you heavy gnocchi.

Plate the ragu.  Carefully spoon the gnocchi on top of the sauce.