Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Aubergine-Wrapped Ricotta Gnocchi

I'm sure I've mentioned before that I have a really big thing for aubergines. It's borderline obsessive; I can't walk past market stalls without buying some, and I've even been growing them (without much success...) myself. Trouble is, I don't have all that many recipes for them. I love them liberally coated in oil simply griddled, or in a couple of Chinese dishes. I also love moussaka or in a pasta sauce, but anything past this and I'm stumped.

I finally picked up my Ottolenghi cookbook. Many people have raved about it but when I first flicked through it, despite the pretty pictures, there was an overwhelming number of recipes for squashes and sweet potato - the arch nemeses of my food world. Still, this weekend I resolved I would try and get over this squash-a-phobia, but I was waylaid by an aubergine. The roots of evil would have to wait.

I was a bit dubious about the recipe in question. How would gnocchi, made with ricotta and Parmesan, not just melt into the water when it was simmering? But I trusted the cookbook and ploughed ahead with it. As I rolled the gnocchi out into fat sausage-like shapes, I then wondered how on earth they were going to fill two of us up. Little did I know, they were pretty rich and were just about sufficient.

Soaking aubergines in oil and grilling them makes them silky and soft. The gnocchi are dressed in sage butter making it a rich, decadent dish. The housemate could only finish two, but I scoffed four happily. One complaint I had about the cookbook was that many of the recipes don't say what to serve with that particular dish; I find it hard to believe that this dish is meant to be served as is, when it's a main course. Broccoli roasted with garlic, chilli and lemon suited it fine, but I imagine there are better alternatives.

Aubergine-Wrapped Ricotta Gnocchi

Adapted from Ottolenghi - Serves 2 as a main

1 small aubergine
Olive oil
30gr pine nuts, lightly toasted
250gr ricotta cheese
2 egg yolks
35gr plain flour
50gr Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper
70gr butter
20 sage leaves
1/2 tbsp lemon juice

In a large bowl, mix together 40gr Parmesan, the flour, egg yolks, salt and ricotta. Add the parsley and basil, mix thoroughly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible.

Trim off the top and the bottom of the aubergine and slice to the thickness of a pound coin lengthways. Brush liberally with olive oil and griddle until soft. Scoop a large tablespoon of the gnocchi mixture and using wet hands, shape into a barrel shape and set aside. I managed to make 6 out of this mixture. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and simmer them, 3 at a time. They are done when they float to the surface. Fish them out - it's quite a delicate business - and leave todry on kitchen towel. Once the dumplings are cool, wrap the aubergine around them carefully. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Place the aubergine-wrapped gnocchi in an oiled dish and bake for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and simmer until light brown in colour. Turn off the heat, add the sage leaves and the lemon juice.

To serve, place the gnocchi on the plate and drizzle the butter over it.


shayma said...

this looks really beautiful, lizzie. i too, am a huge fan of aubergine. fantastic job with the gnocchi. i havent tried to make it in ages...last time i did it took me hours. the photos came out really lovely (and i will have to add in- as always!).

Browners said...

Mmmmm. Ottolenghi. This looks great. We've not got round to making this one yet. I wonder what Chris will say about the aubergines...

Gourmet Chick said...

This sounds delicious (I am also an aubergine fan) there is a really great recipe in the Ottolenghi book for aubergines with a saffron sauce - I am sure you would love it. Put it on the list for next!

Helen said...

ooh I had my eye on this baby! Lovely recipe. I've not used aubergines in this way before. I would have been tempted to put some sort of cous cous with it but then I guess it might have been a bit dry? Mmm, soft, silky aubergines.

theundergroundrestaurant said...

I've made ricotta gnocci and am also an auberginophile so this sounds like a great combo

Catherine said...

You may be interested in this, which I just came across when doing some cookery book research:

150 recipes on aubergines from all over the world. Can't vouch for it, but it's Grub Street, so I would imagine it's pretty good.

Abi said...

That looks amazing - I can't wait to get my hands on the Ottolenghi book!

About Greedy Diva said...

I'm a big fan of aubergines too - just can't get my boyfriend to eat them, dammit. I'll keep this one up my sleeve for the next time he's out!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

I love aubergines, and I love gnocchi - just not sure I see the point in puttint them together. But then again, if you say it's good... hell, I'm going to have to try!

Eléonora said...

Your blog is super. So are your photographies. They make me hungry. I have spent a nice moment when seeing them. Thanks a lot.

Lizzie said...

Shayma - thanks! Kind words :)

Browners - I will force-feed him aubergines at some point. He WILL love them.

Gourmet Chick - funny you should say that, as I made that next.

Helen - cous cous might be a weird texture combo with it, as it's all silky and smooth.

Underground restaurant - it's great, isn't it?

Catherine - fantastic, thank you!

Abi - I would definitely recommend it

Greedy Diva - Try fish fragrant aubergines? I've converted people with that.

A Forkful - You could probably apply that "is there a point to putting them together" for most food - texture contrasts, flavour complements etc.

Eléonora - thank you, glad you like it.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

Wow...looks good. Ricotta is not my favourite cheese but I love gnocchi...

Caitlin said...

Love this recipe, I, in the middle of construction, I don't find what I'm supposed to do with the pine nuts I purchased for this.
When and where are they added?
Do I toast them or use them raw?
Grind them?
Are there any other omissions or mistakes in this recipe that I should know about?
I don't suppose I'll get the answer so I'll just plunge on ahead, but perhaps your answer might help others in the future.
Or am I just missing the pine nut instructions somewhere? I've read and reread...

Lizzie Mabbott said...

Hi Caitlin

You mix the pine nuts into the ricotta mixture. Sorry for the omission.

The recipe when lists them says that they should be lightly toasted.

Caitlin said...

Thanks! Also, ingredients called for 50gr of parmesan, but instructions only used 40gr. I just sprinkled the rest over everything at the end. It's all good, however you put it together.