Potato Gnocchi, Local Roasted Tomato & Eggplant, Basil

Rainal Sahai’s Potato Gnocchi, Local Roasted Tomato & Eggplant, Basil

This dish is a fusion of Fijian ingredients with an Italian classic. Although local cuisine is obviously a big draw for many visitors to Fiji, to add variety to the menus in hotels, chefs in Fiji like Rainal Sahai look how to offers other international dishes whilst still using local ingredients. Kumala- Fijian local sweet potato- adds a pleasant nuttiness to his gnocchi dish.


3 pounds kumala ( Fijian sweet potatoes)

2 cups Friends Fiji root vegetable flour

1 egg, extra large

1 pinch salt

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

1kg tomatoes, washed, seasoned and roasted for 30 minutes

Handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 eggplants, washed

2 to 3 garlic cloves, roasted for 30 minutes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

Handful fresh basil leaves, torn


Bake the whole potatoes until they are soft (about 45 minutes). While still warm, peel and pass through vegetable mill onto clean pasta board.

Set 6 quarts of water to boil in a large spaghetti pot. Set up ice bath with 6 cups ice and 6 cups water near boiling water.

Make well in center of potatoes and sprinkle all over with flour, using all the flour. Place egg and salt in center of well and using a fork, stir into flour and potatoes, just like making normal pasta. Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until a ball is formed. Knead gently another 4 minutes until ball is dry to touch.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into 3/4-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Flick pieces off of fork or concave side of cheese grater until dowel is finished. Drop these pieces into boiling water and cook until they float (about 1 minute). Meanwhile, continue with remaining dough, forming dowels, cutting into 1-inch pieces and flicking off of fork. As gnocchi float to top of boiling water, remove them to ice bath. Continue until all have been cooled off. Let sit several minutes in bath and drain from ice and water. Toss with 1/2 cup canola oil and store covered in refrigerator up to 48 hours until ready to serve.

To make the tomato sauce: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and roasted garlic and cook, stirring, for 7 to 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Add the roasted tomatoes, crushing them in your hand to break them up. Add the basil and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the eggplants crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and put them in a large bowl. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and drizzle generously with olive oil. Toss to coat, drizzling in more oil if you needed. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast 20 minutes until eggplants are very tender.

While the eggplants are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the gnocchi. About 5 minutes before the eggplants are done, drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook until al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain. Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer and pour it into a large pasta bowl. Add the drained gnocchi and stir to coat with the sauce. Fold in the eggplants and the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and basil, and another drizzle of oil, and toss gently. Serve immediately and pass extra cheese at the table.