Having played with our Aubergine/Gnocchi and Parmigiana bake we have also played with a number of variations over the last year or so. One of the best has moved it a little closer to a puttanesca sauce with anchovies, capers and olives, and for us at least, only a little chilli!
The preparation of the dish is exactly the same as for the Aubergine/Gnocchi Parmigiana bake. Firstly the aubergine was cut into decent size chunks. We were short of aubergine and so added a little courgette which works well too. These were then sautéed in a little oil until each side had taken on some colour. (We often choose to include the peppers in this dish and if so add them at this point. The dish does work well without then too). Set these to one side.
We added some finely chopped onion to the pan to soften in a little olive oil. Once it had started to take on some colour the chopped garlic was added and cooked a little more. If you are using fresh or dried chilli, then add it at this stage and stir through the mix.
A can of chopped tomatoes was added and warmed through and then the pan was taken off the heat and the anchovies stirred in. As it is stirred through the anchovies completely break up and thickens the sauce. The pan was put back on the heat and some black olives and capers were tossed in and allowed to cook through for a couple of minutes. This is a good time to test and adjust the sauce base as necessary.
Now to build the dish. The roasted aubergines, (the peppers if including them) and the gnocchi were added to the sauce and left to bubble for 10-15 mins. The sauce was stirred occasionally in the first 5 mins to make sure everything was thoroughly mixed. Normally, at this stage, this would be the time to transfer to an ovenproof dish. As we were already cooking in the Tefal Ingenio pans with the removable handles, this was going to be our ovenproof dish.
Once the gnocchi were starting to soften and the sauce had thickened we stirred through some fresh oregano and thyme and then scattered the torn chunks of mozzarella on the top. We usually add a little grated parmesan cheese on top of the mozzarella. It adds a contrasting texture and colour as well as a little more crunch to the topping.
We have cooked this inside on the hob and on the Big Green Egg, both work well. This was being cooked on the Egg and so the vents were closed and the cheese allowed to melt for a minute or two.
Whether cooking in a domestic kitchen or on the Big Green Egg the dish often needs to be finished under a domestic grill as a ‘crozzled top’ is the one thing the BGE doesn’t do well unless the EGG diameter is a lot greater than that of your pan.
The dish can be put under the grill in the kitchen to finish off the top – but more recently we have been finishing these off in our Gozney Pizza oven. Either way just watch that it doesn’t burn!!!
This is a dish that always tastes better if you let it cool for at least 15 minutes after cooking. So ………
Just take a drink ……. make a green salad………….
………………… give it a go!
Aubergine and gnocchi puttanesca bake
A combination of roasted Aubergines, puttanesca sauce and gnocchi - a perfect and simple bake
- 1 Aubergine cut into decent size chunks.
- Olive oil for sautéing
- 1 Red pepper, deseeded and chopped - optional
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Garlic clove chopped
- 400g tin of tomatoes
- Salt and pepper.
- 250g gnocchi
- Handfull of pitted black olives
- Capers 2Tbs
- Salted Anchovy fillets 5-6
- A little finely chopped fresh chilli or a few chilli flakes
- Fresh or dried oregano and thyme
- 125g mozzarella
- Grated parmesan (optional)
- Step 1 Cut the aubergine into chunks, around 3 cm in most directions. Sauté in a little oil until each side had taken on some colour. Add the chopped peppers if using them and cook for a few minutes more. Set both the peppers and aubergine to one side.
- Step 2 Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and soften in a little olive oil. Once it takes on some colour add the chopped garlic, the chilli, and cook for a few minutes more.
- Step 3 Add the tinned tomatoes and allow to cook through for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the anchovy fillets until they break up and thicken the sauce
- Step 4 Put the pan back on the heat and add the capers and black olives. Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 5 Add the roasted aubergines, pepper and the gnocchi and leave the sauce to bubble for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. The gnocchi will soften and the the sauce thicken.
- Step 6 Transfer to an ovenproof dish, stir through some fresh oregano and thyme and then scatter torn chunks of mozzarella on the top. At this point you can also add a little grated parmesan cheese.
- Step 7 Allow to continue cooking till the cheese melts and starts to colour. If needed transfer to a domestic grill for a couple of minutes to finish off the top – just watch that it doesn’t burn!!!
- Step 8 Let the dish cool for at least 15 minutes after cooking. Serve with a green salad