Wasabi pea gnocchi in a ginger-miso broth with pickled eggplant

Sometimes, a cook is struck with inspiration out-of-the-blue.  I’m not sure how such a project landed in my head, but I decided I would make gnocchi.  Maybe I was craving something light and airy; maybe I just wanted to try my hand at making pasta again.  For some reason, I can’t seem to use flour to make anything besides roux–pasta, dumpling skins…none of them have turned out as well as I had hoped.  I did make a flatbread with relative success, but I’m pretty sure the measure of success is relative to my other misadventures.

In any case, I’d never made gnocchi before, and I soon discovered that, like other dumplings, they require a great deal of preparation time, or someone who loves you enough to sit at a table and cut them for half-great deal of preparation time.  A. has perpetually demonstrated his unerring support for my culinary adventures, particularly those that push dinnertime to around 10pm.

Also, hand-made gnocchi, much like other hand-made dumplings, are a task best suited to a life unburdened by employment.  What a blessing it is to have all the time in the world to roll dumplings while browsing for jobs online (i.e., watching things on Netflix, i.e., watching videos of cute animals doing cute things)!  Of course, the unfortunate aspect of it is that, with this sudden surge in free time comes an increased attention to the number of dollar bills flying out of bank accounts and into grocery store cash registers.

(Interestingly enough, the little neighborhood Latino grocery store has slowly begun appealing to the novel gentry around town.  During the past several visits, I’ve witnessed the sudden appearance of a small section of organic dry goods, as well as several brands of organic tofu.  But this is discussion for another time.)

So, there are three parts to this recipe: the gnocchi, the broth and the pickled eggplant.  Let’s start with the easiest:

Pickled Japanese Eggplant:

  1. Pause the video of “pug puppies playing.”
  2. Go to a Japanese grocery store.
  3. Buy some pickled eggplant.
  4. Come back home and finish watching “pug puppies playing.”  Watch related videos until your loved one arrives.
  5. Spread a bunch of stuff around the counter and muss up your hands to look like you’ve been preparing for the meal for hours.

For the gnocchi:

1 cup potatoes, steamed and mashed

1/2 cup sweet peas

1 tablespoon flaxseed plus 3 tablespoons water, mixed (This is to replace the egg as a binder.  I suppose you could use one egg in lieu of this mixture, but I don’t play that game, mmkay?)

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons wasabi paste

2 teaspoons ginger

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Buy a food processor, as using a blender sucks.
  2. Blend everything except the flour.
  3. Now, since blending dough is a horrible idea in a blender, I poured everything out, mixed half of the flour in right quick, then added the rest of the flour and mixed it.  Alternatively, if you have a food processor, you could add the first batch of flour and blend until just mixed, then pour everything out and mix in the rest.  NOTE: Don’t knead the dough excessively, just enough for the flour to get mixed in!  I made that mistake, and the gnocchi got too chewy (i.e., they developed too much gluten).
  4. Chill the dough.  This makes it easier to manipulate.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a string (or several strings, in case your table is not long enough…but you knew that already) about a half-inch thick.
  6. Cut the dough into pieces, a little over a half-inch each.  Press the gnocchi into the tines of a fork, just enough for it to make an impression (hopefully with a very friendly demeanor, since first impressions are the most important) and curl a little bit.
  7. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.  Boil the gnocchi until they float to the top.

Now, the ginger-miso broth (best prepared while your loving partner is rolling out that dough):

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons minced ginger

about 2/3 cup vegetable broth (I cheated hardcore and used vegan boullion)

1.5 teaspoons miso paste (I should mention that I don’t measure things to a T, so you might want to start with a little, then adjust to taste)

a dash of agave nectar or some other natural sweetener

a little sesame oil to sautée the garlic and ginger

  1. Heat the oil.  Add the garlic, then the ginger.  Sautée until fragrant.
  2. Add the broth.  Reduce to a simmer.
  3. After the broth has reduced to a desirable quantity, add the miso pasta and mix well.
  4. Leave on a low simmer until read to serve.

To serve, place a small handful of gnocchi on the plate, drizzle enough broth to cover, garnish with sweet peas on the outside (of the gnocchi, not the plate, duh…why would you put it on the outside of the plate) and a bit of pickled eggplant in the center.  Enjoy with your special someone, who must really love you if s/he just spent several hours indulging in your unemployment-fueled culinary adventure.  If alone, search for “chinchilla dust bath,” view, and pour yourself another glass of crisp white wine.

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~ by algernon on September 9, 2010.

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