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Ricotta Gnocci with eggplant sauce

Bliss sisters' gnocci recipe

Ricotta Gnocci with eggplant sauce
Recipe by Junior MasterChef winner, Isabella Bliss and her sister Sofia

one large to two medium eggplants
sea salt to taste
450 gram of firm ricotta cheese
400 gram pepato , parmesan or Romano cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
one teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
300 gram of plain flour
one quantity Basic tomato salsa
basil leaves, to serve

Chop the eggplant into small cubes, sprinkle with salt, and leave to rest in a colander with a weight on top, to help drain the eggplant. Set aside in the sink for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, gently, simmer the Basic tomato salsa in a large saucepan, adding small amounts of water, if required , so that the sauce does not dry out.

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the ricotta, pepato, nutmeg and eggs, then add the flour, 100 gram at a time, mixing well after each addition. Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured surface and gently combine ( do not knead the dough, as this makes it tough). If the dough feels too tough or hard (because ricotta can come in different consistencies) just add a little water or part of a whisked egg; if it is too soft, add a little extra flour. The dough is ready when it does not stick to your hands at all.

To make the gnocci, roll the dough into a large sausage. Take a handful and roll it into a smaller sausage about 2-3 cm thick. Pinch off pieces the size of a 10-cent coin and roughly roll each piece into a ball. Using the back of a fork, pull the ball along the benchtop to form a dent in the gnocci, and make fork marks on the other side ( this helps the the sauce cling to the cooked gnocci).

Alternatively, use Zia Angelina’s method by taking the ball of dough and hand rolling it along the back of the fork using your finger or thumb. Either method works well. Rest the gnocci on large floured trays.

Rinse and dry  the eggplant with paper towel. Cook the eggplant in a large frying pan with a little olive oil, then add three quarters to the simmering tomato sauce. Reserve the remaining one- quarter to serve.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Position a large colander over a saucepan next to the pot. Ass the gnocci to the boiling water, as they rise to the surface, remove immediately with a large slotted spoon and drain in the colander. When all the gnocci are cooked, gently nix them into the sauce.

Serve in a bowl garnished with a spoonful of the reserved eggplant, the grated cheese and the basil leaves.

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