Sweet potato gnocchi with spiced eggplant chutney and coconut-coriander sauce

This dish is a fusion of non-traditional sweet potato gnocchi and fragrant Thai spicy eggplant with a refreshing burst of zesty coconut-coriander sauce to finish it off. It’s a Post-Apocalyptic original, and so far it hasn’t failed to excite ūüėÄ

This is an idea that came to me when I experienced a mixed craving for the sweetness of sweet potato, the freshness of basil, and the spicy tang of eggplant chutney… This dish was born a winner, but it ain’t for the faint-hearted. If your palate is delicate, this might be too much of a flavour bomb. But if flavour bombs are your thing, give this one a go, and enjoy the palate pyrotechnics!

You’ll need a bit of time to prep this, so make sure you’ve left at least two hours between start and plate-up time, just to make sure you’re not in a frenzy trying to get it all together while hungry mouths squawk at you for sustenance!

Flavour: Spicy, fresh & fragrant

Serves: 2 as a main meal

Sweet potato gnocchi:

Ingredients:

  • 1 large orange¬†sweet potato, or two medium-sized ones
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 tablespoons flour (quantity may vary, so add flour gradually while working toward perfect consistency)

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop sweet potato into 1-inch chunks
  2. Boil sweet potato until tender and easily mashed
  3. Strain sweet potato, and mash with a fork – stir in salt, and leave to cool (it really needs to be cool, as adding the flour while it’s still warm will give your gnocchi a gluey consistency)
  4. Once mashed sweet potato is cool you can mix in the flour with a spatula, adding the flour one tablespoon at a time
  5. Once the potato mixture becomes doughy, knead it with your hands, incorporating the flour, until you have a pliable orange dough the consistency of play-doh
  6. Break your dough into 3-4 pieces, and roll each piece into a thick, long sausage shape on a surface lightly dusted with flour
  7. Cut your dough sausages into evenly-sized pieces – they can be round, square, or traditional dumpling-shaped gnocchis – entirely up to your creativity!
  8. Gently roll the gnocchis in flour to ensure each one is non-sticky, then set aside
  9. When you’re ready to cook (and fresher is better – ideally do this once your eggplant chutney is good to go), boil up a large pan of slightly salted water, and boil the gnocchi in batches (2-3 batches should do it) – you’ll know it’s done when they all float to the surface and start bobbing about
  10. Remove the gnocchi from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, and drain it on a plate
  11. Fry off your drained gnocchi in (non-dairy) butter in small batches (2-3 batches should do it) before serving – this adds a slight golden nuttiness and creamy flavour and texture to the whole dish.
Eggplant chutney:

Ingredients:

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 2 large Thai eggplants, or 3-4 smaller ones (the eggplants you need are the long ones – may also be identified as Japanese eggplant or Lebanese eggplant)
  • small bunch of Thai basil – leaves only
  • 4 bird’s eye chillies, sliced finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • splash of unflavoured oil, such as sunflower oil

Directions:

  • Slice red onion finely, and fry off in sunflower oil in wok over high heat; once translucent, reduce heat to medium
  • While your onion is cooking off, cut eggplants lenthways, and then into small chunks –¬†half-centimetere semicircles are ideal, as these will go mushy, rendering a dish that’s like a chilli paste
  • Place eggplant chunks in bowl, and rub with salt – leave aside for about 10 minutes
  • Wash salt off eggplant, and strain off excess water
  • Fry eggplant for 5 minutes in wok with onion over¬†medium heat, stirring regularly
  • Add garlic and chillies, stir in, and cook for 2 more minutes
  • Add palm sugar and soy sauce, stir, reduce heat to low, and cook for another 20 minutes or until eggplant is melt-in-your-mouth tender
  • Stir in Thai basil and spring onions, and remove from heat
Coconut-coriander sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 1¬†cup coconut cream (I tend to use powdered coconut cream, mixed with water – about 4 tablespoons is ideal)
  • Juice of 1¬†lime
  • Small bunch of coriander
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions:

  • Stir lime juice and soy sauce into coconut cream – set aside and chill (you can make this well in advance, so it’s ready to serve when the gnocchi is cooked)
  • Finely chop coriander, and add to coconut cream mixture just before serving – stir well
Putting it all together:
  1. Arrange a layer of gnocchi on each plate, using about a third of the gnocchi
    • Amateur tip: I like to plate up in a crescent-moon shape, leaving a space on the plate for a¬†generous splash of sauce ūüėČ
  2. Place spoonfuls of the eggplant chutney mixture among some of the gnocchis, using about a third of the chutney mixture
  3. Add a second and third layer of gnocchi and then eggplant mixture, resulting in a layered dish with eggplant chutney dispersed throughout the gnocchi rather than just dumped on top of it
  4. Serve with a generous splash of coconut-coriander sauce in the curve of the crescent (and if you have any extra sauce, you’ll probably want a bowl or jug of this on the table to be able to top up with)
  5. Let your dinner guests snap a selfie with this one before tucking in ūüėČ

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