Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
8 ounces|226 grams ricotta
7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon|15 grams kosher salt, plus more to taste
½ bunch of chives, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
1 small eggplant (about 8 ounces|225 grams), diced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bird’s eye chili, stemmed and minced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
6 ounces|175 grams sungold tomatoes
3-4 red shiso leaves, julienned
½ bunch Swiss chard (about 4 ounces|100 grams), stems removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced
1. Place the ricotta and the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and combine on medium speed. With the mixer still running, slowly add the egg yolk and salt. Turn off the mixer, fold in the chives, and transfer the dough to a pastry bag. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
2. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Pipe out 1/2 inch of dough over the water, and snip it off with kitchen scissors. Continue this process for the rest of the dough, working quickly so the gnocchi doesn't overcook. Simmer the gnocchi for 2 minutes, constantly stirring the water. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and place on an oiled sheet tray. Gnocchi will keep like this while you make the sauce.
3. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook, turning the eggplant as needed, until lightly golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, until soft, then stir in the pepper. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggplant mixture from the skillet and transfer to a bowl.
4. Pour 1/3 cup water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the butter and cook, swirling the skillet, until melted and emulsified. Add the tomatoes, shiso leaves, Swiss chard, and scallions and cook until the leaves are wilted and the tomatoes just begin to burst, 3 minutes more. Add the gnocchi and the eggplant back to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Zest in the lemon and squeeze in some juice. Toss to coat and divide among 2 bowls. Garnish with the bronze fennel and the okra flower petals, if using, and serve.
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AUTHOR'S NOTE: This recipe has been adapted by the author from his cookbook, Laurel: Modern American Flavors in Philadelphia.