VDP: Basil Gnocchi with Eggplant Sauce

Thursday, August 13, 2008

Potato gnocchi can be lumpy, doughy, stodgy and heavy or they can be as they should be, soft fluffy pillows of goodness. I’ve made both types and learned from my mistakes. They key is to use cooked potatoes that are as dry as possible, to use as little flour as possible (dry potatoes help with this), and to work the dough lightly and only as long as it takes for it to come together. You do not want to develop any gluten in there, which will make it chewy and the overworked potato turn it gummy.

I made these gnocchi using no specific recipe, just touch and feel. I boiled the potatoes and milled them. Then I spread them on a plate and allowed them to dry in a low oven for 30 minutes. To make the dough, I mixed the potatoes, about 1.5 cups, with one egg, salt, enough flour to bind it (maybe a small handful) and chopped basil. I formed the dough to ropes, cut the gnocchi and rolled them on the tines of a fork to give them the proper shape. Into boiling water they went and then into an ice cold water bath to halt the cooking. I tossed them with some olive oil in a bowl and put them in the fridge until the next day.

For the sauce I made eggplant in the style of a Sicilian Caponata. The eggplant is sautéed with onions, garlic, tomatoes and some raisins. When the sauce was ready I tossed in the pre-cooked gnocchi and served with extra Parmigiano cheese and pepper flakes. The basil in the gnocchi was a very good addition and went perfectly with the eggplant sauce. The texture was perfect as well, soft and light.

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