Vegan Gnocchi of Eggplant and Whole wheat flour, with Mama’s Italian tomato sauce
Time: prep 15-20 min
cook. eggplants 15-20 min
cook. gnocchi 5-7 min
30 min to 12 hrs for rest
Yield: 2 servings
I don’t know what you think, but in these first days of autumn I feel a great pressure, between the desire to savor to the full the last summer vegetables, which will soon disappear from our tables, and the urge to embrace again the autumn varieties, for which I feel an immense longing. The decision is difficult, because as you know one of the most important rules of eating well, healthy, ethical but also economic, is to buy only seasonal products.
So in order not to fail in my mission which has become more a way of life, when I hear the “tick-tock” for eggplant and tomatoes, there is nothing that can stop me: not even a perturbation along our navigation area!
The die is cast, today’s recipe will have the task of enhancing these two protagonists close to leaving our plates: I’m sure you will go crazy for the vegan gnocchi of eggplant made with wholemeal flour.
The recipe requires few ingredients and no particular skill, just a little time to make the dumplings: even Giampaolo (my husband) is able to make them, I just have to find the right motivation such as asking him “what do you want for lunch, rice or gnocchi?”… I easily get the required help.
But in case you arrived late on this page and you don’t know where to find eggplants and tomatoes, please don’t worry: to enjoy this recipe spinach, chard or pumpkin are fine too.
The pulp of 3 eggplants of about 500 grams already cooked and cooled
approx. 100 grams of wholemeal flour (preferably stone-ground)
a pinch of salt
For tomato sauce
2 big and ripe tomatoes
1 clove of crushed garlic
4-5 basil leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped almond
1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (or 1 tablespoon of grated cheese for non-vegans)
little raw olive oil
Turn the oven on at 200 °C; place the washed eggplants on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake them for about 15-20 minutes until they are cooked, i.e. soft. At the end of cooking, clean them and drain the water released and let them cool.
Sometimes it can be too hot to use the oven, or peeling the eggplants can be frightening for those rushing. In these cases I suggest you to use another cooking technique: boiling eggplants; maybe the taste is not as marked as the one obtained with the oven but, believe me, the practicality and comfort derived from it worth a try.
For this last option you just have to wash, peel and then boil eggplants in boiling water. Once cooked, transfer them to a bowl to cool to room temperature. After draining the eggplants from their cooking water, crush them with a fork
Add the eggplant puree with flour, salt and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg; mix everything with energy.
Once you have obtained a homogeneous and non-sticky dough (it may be necessary to add more flour), divide it into various balls as big as a walnut, from which to obtain 20-30 cm long strands. Then cut them with a knife to finally create the vegan eggplant gnocchi, giving them the classic look with the tines of a fork.
Arrange the dumplings on a surface dusted with flour, being careful not to let them touch each other.
I suggest to let the dumplings rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature: you can reach up to 12 hours by using the fridge, but no longer, so they do not dry out too much.
When you and the sauce are ready, cook them in plenty of boiling salted water.
For the sauce, cut the tomatoes into cubes. Then put the oil in a pan and add the crushed garlic.
Garlic is a must-have of vegetarian and vegan diets, because it makes every recipe tasty and it is also very cheap.
This food with a pungent taste is packed together with a good dose of antioxidants, also called polyphenols: they protect our skin from free radicals, harmful for collagen. Moreover, thanks to its allicin content, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-thrombotic properties, it is a real natural antibiotic. Allicin is activated from alliin thanks to its enzyme, alliinase, which is made available to us when we crush garlic and break the cell walls that preserve it.
Allicin itself is resistant to high cooking temperatures, only the activating enzyme already deteriorates with just one minute of cooking! In order to take full advantage of the properties of garlic, you must first crush it, wait about 10 minutes for the enzyme to allow the formation of allicin and then cook as you like
After cooking the garlic on low heat, taking care not to burn it, add fresh tomato cubes. If you have time follow the method that I learned from my friend Ivo, from Naples; in other words prepare this sauce a few hours before serving: in this case 3-4 minutes on high heat will be enough; this allows tomatoes to release their aromas into olive oil, which will then penetrate into gnocchi’s infills.
If you are in a hurry and don’t have hours to wait, then cook tomatoes for at least ten minutes. Assuming that for lack of time you have not been able to remove the skin and seeds, as unfortunately many recipes suggest, you should know that you are doing a good thing: you will get the most of the lycopene present inside “the red gold“, as the greatest concentration is found in its skin.
Returning to our sauce, gradually add a few tablespoons of the cooking water of dumplings if needed.
When the vegan eggplant gnocchi are ready (you’ll understand when they come to the surface) pour 2-3 tablespoons of sauce into the dish, lay some dumplings on top and cover them with more sauce; garnish your plate with a teaspoon of nutritional yeast, a teaspoon of chopped almond, basil and a drizzle of raw oil; if you are not vegan and you prefer it, you can replace the nutritional yeast with cheese; or you can have it only with tomato sauce and basil still enjoying every single moment.
A satiating dish, rich in fiber, slow digestion carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that manages to combine taste with affordability without feeling any “contrition”.
But to improve your meal, that is to say to enrich it with proteins and increase even more the sense of satiety, I suggest to combine it with a generous salad bowl made with legumes and vegetables such as broccoli or cabbage. Season your salad with a little oil and a lot of lemon juice in order to absorb as much iron as possible (*) from the ingredients present in your meal.
Bon appetit and good revolution to all.
(*) Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H. (2004). Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 74(6):403-419.