For the gnocchi: To a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, Parmesan cheese, and lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the ricotta cheese and egg. Combine well with a wooden spoon or with your fingers until the dough just comes together, taking care not to overwork, which could cause the dough to toughen.
Scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface and pat into a rough square. If it's tacky to the touch, add a bit more flour so you can form it with your hands. Using a bench scraper, cut the pasta dough into 4 even pieces. Gently roll each piece into foot-long ropes, about 1-inch in diameter, flouring as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface. Cut each rope into 1/2- to 3/4-inch wide pieces. Place the gnocchi onto a floured, parchment-lined, baking sheet and into the freezer, uncovered. Keep in the freezer until ready to cook.
For the eggplant: Place a saute pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons blended oil. Once heated, add the garlic and pinch of salt. Do not brown, just sweat for 30 seconds. Add the eggplant and season again with salt.
Add a bit more oil if necessary; the eggplant may quickly soak up what is already in the pan. Once this starts to breakdown, after about 2 minutes, add a bit more oil, if needed, the red pepper and freshly picked oregano leaves. Toss to combine, lower the heat and allow to slowly cook while starting the sauce.
For the sauce: To another saute pan, add 1/2 cup unsalted butter and allow to melt over medium heat. Add the lemon slices to the butter and allow to saute while you cook the gnocchi.
Meanwhile, to a pot of boiling water, add enough salt and make it taste like the ocean. Carefully add the gnocchi to the boiling water and allow to cook. Once the gnocchi start to float, after about 2 to 3 minutes, remove them from the water using a slotted spoon and add them to the butter pan and allow to brown, about 2 minutes. Reserve the pasta water.
For plating: Spoon about half of the eggplant mixture into the butter-gnocchi pan. Toss in 1/4 cup pasta water, drizzle extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and toss to combine. Once the butter melts, place onto plate. Drizzle the plate with extra-virgin olive oil and more Parmesan cheese.
The salt will help pull out the excess moisture from the eggplant.
Recipe courtesy of Michael Symon