Tre Piani Eggplant Salad & Gnocchi

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Tomato, Pickled Cabbage and Red Beet Vinaigrette

Jim Weaver, Chef/Owner, Tre Piani Restaurant, Princeton

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

1 eggplant, peeled and diced 
1 tomato diced
½ cup roasted peppers diced
2 cups Chinese cabbage cut into roughly ½ inch cubes (ingredients for pickling below)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus another ¼ cup
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

DRESSING

2 large red beets
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

BEETS

Roast the beets uncovered and unpeeled at 350 degrees for about an hour or until soft. When cool, peel and cut them into small enough pieces to puree with a blender, food processor or mixing wand. Add the vinegar and salt and puree until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil until a rich smooth puree is achieved. If it is too thick, add a small amount of water.

PICKLED CABBAGE

Boil 3 cups water with one cup white vinegar, ½ cup kosher salt, ½ cup sugar and 2 garlic cloves.
Lightly oil and salt the eggplant and bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven until it cooks through. Remove and let cool to room temperature.
Toss the vegetables, herbs and remaining olive oil together. Spread some of the dressing onto the plate

PRESENTATION

Use a small bowl to mold the salad mixture compressing it slightly. Invert onto the serving plate and unmold the salad onto it. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, halved cherry tomatoes and small diced beets.


Potato Gnocchi with Asian Vegetables

Jim Weaver, Chef/Owner, Tre Piani Restaurant, Princeton, NJ

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS FOR GNOCCHI

2 large russet potatoes, washed
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup parmesan cheese

INGREDIENTS FOR SAUCE

1 bunch Chinese water spinach washed and cut into strips
1 bunch Chinese leeks julienne and washed thoroughly
Kernels from two ears fresh sweet corn
6 Chinese long beans cut into one inch pieces and rinsed
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 tsp chopped fresh jalepeno pepper (optional and to taste)
2 cloves garlic sliced
2 eggs
½ cup grated Toma (from Cherry Orchard Farm) or other semi-hard sharp cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

GNOCCHI

Roast the potatoes in a 350 degree oven until fork tender, set aside to cool. When the potatoes are cool, cut in half and remove the insides with a spoon and discard the skins. Run the potatoes through a ricer and combine the flour and cheese. Mix until incorporated.

Fold in the butter and egg yolk and mix the dough by hand. Be careful not to over mix or the dough, stop when it is just barely a smooth dough. Let the dough rest wrapped in plastic for at least thirty minutes in a cool area or refrigerator.

Put on a pot of lightly salted water to boil while you make the sauce.

After thirty minutes or more, unwrap the dough and put it on a large cutting board or clean counter. Cut off pieces and roll them into long thin cigar shaped pieces about twelve inches long. Cut each roll into small bite-size pieces and dust them with a little white flour to keep them from sticking together. (traditionally each piece is rolled off the back of a fork to give them their authentic shape but they do not need to be). Keep the gnocchi spread out in one layer on a lightly floured pan until ready to use or they can be frozen for up to one week. (If you choose to freeze them, put them in the freezer on the pan in one layer until they are frozen solid. They can then be moved into a ziplock bag or similar until ready to cook. Cook them frozen.)

SAUCE

In a large sauté pan or wok, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Let cook for about thirty seconds – do not let it burn! Add the peppers, leeks and the long beans with a pinch of salt. Saute until the beans begin to sweat, about 2 minutes. Next add the sweet corn, spinach and saute for another 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the pasta water and the basil. Taste for seasoning.

Cook the gnocchi in rapidly boiling water for about four minutes or until they float. Drain them and add them to the vegetables and stir well. Add the cheese and serve immediately.

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