When we conceived of this recipe, we initially intended to toss the gnocchi with tomatoes and basil and douse the whole thing in a goat cheese sauce. Unfortunately, when we got our CSA veggie box today, there were no tomatoes to be had. Alas, the recent spate of cold weather has kept the tomatoes from ripening. We did, however get the most funky little vegetable I have ever seen… Brazilian eggplant.
You can cook and eat these little guys just like regular eggplant. They are more fun though because even the largest one was smaller than an egg, and who doesn’t love tiny vegetables?
Given what we had available, we decided to modify our original plan to include the eggplants. Of course, we kept the goat cheese sauce. I think this recipe would work well pretty much any vegetable including tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, spinach, etc.
Gnocchi with Eggplant and Arugula
1 package gnocchi (we used Trader Joe’s brand)
1 tbls olive oil
1 bunch Brazilian eggplants or 1 small traditional eggplant
1 small bunch of arugula, washed and ends trimmed
salt and pepper
Basil leaves and parmesan cheese for garnish, if desired
For the sauce
2 tbls butter
2 tbls flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
3 ounces fresh goat cheese, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
Set a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. In the meantime, chop the eggplant into bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the eggplant and saute until tender. Add the arugula and saute briefly until wilted. Season the veggies with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. Once water is boiling, add gnocchi and cook according to package directions.
In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it is melted, add the flour, whisking to combine. Cook the butter and flour for a few minutes to get the raw flour taste out. Add the garlic cloves and slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly until the mixture is thickened. Take off the heat and add the goat cheese, whisking until the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If needed, use a bit of the pasta water to thin the sauce.
Toss the cooked gnocchi with the sauce and veggies, top with torn fresh basil and some grated parmesan cheese (if desired). Serves 3-4.