Sunday, 19 May 2013

Gnocchi (o pasta) alla Melanzana e Mozzarella. Ottima! Gnocchi or pasta with a wonderful aubergine (eggplant) and mozzarella sauce. Simply to die for!

 When I was a young girl, I used to spend my evenings at home and my two big sister would visit every afternoon... some days they spent all day at our house, which was always filled with the sound of children's voices, laughter and cry. Their little children came, too, and filled us all with so much joy!
It was a bit like a "Little Women" atmosphere, with lots of activities going on: reading, knitting, crochet, watching TV, doing crosswords with our Babbo (we were all good at it!) and watching TV, all after I had done my homework, of course!

Our mamma would normally be busy, in the kitchen, cooking supper. She didn't really knit, do crochet and was rubbish at crossword puzzles, but she could cook and she could certainly love. It was on one of those evenings that she used air freshener, instead of hairspray! We laughed so much!
One evening, as I was looking through a magazine, I found a recipe: "Spaghetti al telefono" ... it sounded so delicious, I made it and it became a family classic, which I would cook, as my mum never strayed away from classic Italian cuisine!
I never made the dish with spaghetti. Instead, I used penne or rigatoni, as I thought a short pasta shape would suit the sauce better. Eventually, this dish became a family favourite we called and still call  "Pasta alle melanzane" because that's what it is: pasta with a most delicious aubergine based sauce!
Today, I made this dish, using gnocchi. I love gnocchi so much, though we never had gnocchi at home.
I want to share this recipe with you, hoping that you will try it.

Gnocchi alle Melanzane e Mozzarella
( Gnocchi or Pasta With my Aubergine and Mozzarella Sauce)

( three generous servings )
500g ( just over 1lb) gnocchi
1 large mozzarella, finely chopped
Parmesan cheese
For the sauce:
olive oil
(enough to cover the bottom of the pan- be generous!)
1-2 garlic cloves
1 unpeeled aubergine
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 tbs passata
chilli pepper, fresh or dried
(as much or as little as you like)
black pepper


Cut your aubergine in half, then dice (smallish pieces.) Place your olive oil in the pan and when piping hot, add your garlic, This should turn a nice golden colour, but not black. Add your aubergine and stir. If you think you don't have enough oil, you can add some. Aubergine does tend to absorb oil! Cook until the aubergine cubes look translucent or even golden.


At this point, you can add your tinned tomatoes, which you would previously have squashed, with the help of a fork. Add salt, pepper and chillies.


 While the sauce is cooking, remember to put some water in another pan, ready for your gnocchi (or pasta, if you prefer!)


Cook the sauce on a medium heat for 20-25 minutes. When your sauce is ready, add your mozzarella to the sauce, finely cut,  and stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce has gone a pinky colour.
Cook your gnocchi, by plunging them in boiling hot water. Gnocchi only take about a minute to cook. When they start floating, they are done!


Drain and add to the sauce and don't forget to add a lot of lovely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese!


This dish can be eaten as it is, or, if you want a golden crust, it can be grilled. It is also delicious with rigatoni or penne.

I hope you try it, as it is not just delicious... it's also easy!