Eggplant Gnocchi with Eggplant Tomato Sauce

I love gnocchi. I am also a lucky woman. My husband and kids will eat anything but I love finding ways to "hide" vegetables for their friends. This gnocchi is the perfect vehicle for hidden vegetables. What child would imagine that lurking in the harmless looking pasta is an entire roasted eggplant? The sauce is a great complement to the gnocchi but could easily be replace with standard spaghetti sauce for the picky eaters in the crowd. This is also a great dish to make if you have vegetarians or vegans coming to dinner. One easy egg substitution and the meal is vegan. I am going to refer you to the photos & steps on my previous gnocchi blog post for techniques & pictorials on how to form and roll out gnocchi. 

Eggplant Gnocchi
(serves 4-6)

1 large eggplant (You will toss it with 1 TBS oil & 1 tsp kosher salt)
1 egg (you can easily make this recipe vegan by using an egg substitute product)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 cups flour plus an additional 1/2 cup- 3/4 cup for rolling out
1 tsp thyme

Eggplant Tomato Sauce
(serves 4-6)

1 large eggplant (You will toss it with 1 TBS oil & 1 tsp kosher salt)
1/2 26 oz can diced tomato (or replace with fresh diced tomato if it's in season in your area)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
zest of one lemon
juice from one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 450. Chop the ends off of the eggplants (you'll be using two if making the gnocchi and the sauce). Peel it and slice it into rounds. Stack the rounds and cube up the eggplant. Throw it into a bowl and toss with 1 TBS olive oil and 1 tsp of kosher salt for each eggplant you're using. 

Spread the eggplant on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for roughly 15-20 minutes until soft. Watch for burning pieces. 

2. When the eggplant is done roasting place half of it into the food processor, reserving the other half for the sauce. Add an egg, 1 tsp of kosher salt, 1 tsp thyme & 1 /14 cups of flour into the processor and blend until smooth. It will look like a dip. Feel free to add an extra 1/4 cup of flour if it feels too goopy. 

Turn out the batter a few spoonfuls at a time onto your prepared floured surface to roll out the gnocchi into long strands (for pictures see my earlier gnocchi blog). As you cut up the gnocchi make sure to place it onto a floured cookie sheet. Once all gnocchi is cut place it into the fridge for 15 minutes to set. 

3. Start a large stockpot of water on the stove so it will boil in time to cook the gnocchi. Now it's time to start your sauce. In a saute pan place a tablespoon of olive oil and dump in the remaining eggplant. Use a spatula to move around the eggplant and heat it back up. Add 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and mix to coat. 

Add in minced garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add in the diced tomatoes and 1 TBS of olive oil. Use your tongs to combine the eggplant and tomato. 

4. By this point roughly 10- 15 minutes should have passed. Add the eggplant gnocchi that was resting in the fridge into the pot of boiling water. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and thyme into the sauce. The gnocchi need to boil for a little under 5 minutes and will float to the surface when done. Scoop onto plates and top with your sauce. Enjoy!

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