Eggplant Gnocchi with Ristretto of Tomato, Smoked Ricotta, and Fresh Oregano

Eggplant Gnocchi with Ristretto of Tomato, Smoked Ricotta, and Fresh Oregano
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Eggplants
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Eggplants

This unusual variation on gnocchi, usually made with potatoes (or even just flour), was created by Davide Degiovanni, chef at Amaranto in the Four Seasons London at Park Lane. We like this eggplant pasta dish paired with a good, rich Friulian pinot grigio.

Ingredients

For the eggplant purée:

  • Olive oil, for pan-frying
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • Thyme, to taste
  • Salt, to taste

For the ristretto:

  • 10.6 ounces fresh or canned whole San Marzano or Italian plum tomatoes
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the gnocchi:

  • Salt, for cooking gnocchi
  • 1 pound, 2 ounces eggplant purée
  • 7 ounces flour
  • 5.3 ounces mashed potato
  • 1.8 ounces pecorino, grated
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Few leaves of fresh oregano, plus more for serving
  • Butter, for serving
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
  • Smoked ricotta, sliced, for serving
  • 3 baby San Marzano or Italian plum tomatoes, peeled and halved, for serving
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Directions

For the eggplant purée:

In a large pan over high heat, heat enough olive oil to pan-fry the eggplant. Add the eggplant, thyme, and salt, to taste. Cover the pan with a lid, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat, and allow the mixture to cool. Put the mixture into a food processor, and blend. Pass it through a sieve to remove the seeds, and put it back into the food processor. Blend further, and then place the mixture in a finer mesh sieve over a bowl or container.

Place the purée in the refrigerator overnight (this will help any excess cooking oil drip out).

For the ristretto:

Over high heat, bring another pot of water to boil. Add the tomatoes, and blanch them. (Omit this step if using canned tomatoes.)

Drain, peel, and seed the tomatoes. Blend them for 2 minutes in a blender at high speed until it becomes a thick purée. In a pan over high heat, cook the tomatoes for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste, and cook for 3 more minutes. It should be very dry and have the consistency of tomato paste.

For the gnocchi:

Over medium heat, bring a large pot of water to a gentle simmer. Salt the water until it tastes like the sea.

Combine the eggplant purée with the flour, mashed potato, pecorino, and egg yolk in the mixer. Put the mixer on the lowest speed setting, and mix until a smooth, dry, and compact consistency is achieved. Add the oregano, and place the mixture into a piping bag.

Start piping the mixture over the simmering salted water.* Once the gnocchi float, they are done, about 3 minutes. As they finish cooking, remove the gnocchi to a colander to drain. Reserve some of the pasta water. Gently toss them in butter, some reserved pasta water, Parmesan, and oregano.

Place a spoonful of the ristretto in a deep plate. Place the gnocchi on top. Garnish the plate with a few slices of smoked ricotta, 3 baby San Marzano tomatoes, and oregano. Finish with a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil.

Eggplant Shopping Tip

Look for vegetables that are firm and bright in color – avoid those that are wilted or have wrinkled skins, which are signs of age.

Eggplant Cooking Tip

Vegetables should typically be cooked as quickly as possible, as they can become bland and mushy, and lose vitamins and minerals.

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