Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina
I’ve never met a pasta I didn’t like and this Baked Ricotta Gnocchi has to be one of my favourite and easiest pastas to make. A dish that comes from Sorrento in the Amalfi coast region of Italy, is traditionally made with potato gnocchi, however my version is using ricotta gnocchi, which is so much easier and faster to make than potato gnocchi. The gnocchi is added to a rich yet simple tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella, parmesan and basil and baked until golden. It’s like if gnocchi and lasagna had a baby, this would be it. It’s the ultimate in comfort food, the warm hug you need on a cold wintry day, best served with a nice glass of Italian red, a fresh salad and some garlic bread.
Cooking Time- 1 hour
Skill Level- Easy AF
- 450 g of fresh ricotta
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 cup (100g block) of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan) cheese
- 100g of Plain flour, plus extra for rolling the gnocchi
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 pinch of chilli flakes or 1 tablespoon of chilli oil
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 2 cans (800g) of diced tomatoes or passata
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
- 1 handful of fresh flat parsley, finely chopped
- 1 ball (450g) of fresh Mozzarella cheese
- Heat a large pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil and once hot, add 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic until they are lightly browned on medium heat. Then add 1 medium onion, finely chopped and 1 pinch of chilli flakes or 1 tbsp of chilli oil and sweat them on medium heat for 5 minutes or until they are soft, translucent and the oil is a nice orange colour.
- Add 1 tbsp of tomato paste and mix to combine for 2 minutes until the paste starts to turn a deep red colour. Then add 2 cans of canned tomatoes, your parmesan rind, a few stalks of basil, stir to combine and then simmer on low with a lid on for about 20 minutes whilst you prepare your gnocchi.
- Place 450g of ricotta, 2 egg yolks, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of salt and pepper and stir to roughly combine. Then add 2/3 cup of the freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and stir to combine. Add 100g of plain flour and using floured hands, gently knead the dough into a rough ball. The dough should be quite sticky and wet so don’t try to add more flour otherwise your gnocchi will become chewy and tough.
- Lightly dust a chopping board or bench top with flour and cut your dough ball into eight equal sections. Using floured hands, gently form one of the pieces of dough into a rough sausage shape, then place onto your chopping board and begin to slowly roll using both hands into a long snake, about 20cm in length and 1.5cm in diameter.
- Using your knife, now cut 2cm pillows of gnocchi and once all cut, place them onto a tray dusted in flour to prevent them from sticking together. Continue to do this for the remaining 7 pieces of dough.
- Cook your gnocchi in two batches in a boiling pot of generously salted water. The gnocchi will cook in 2 minutes and it is ready to be scooped out once they float to the top. Whilst waiting for your gnocchi to cook, stir your sauce and remove the parmesan rind and basil stalks. Turn off the heat and using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the pot of sauce. Gently stir them with a spoon to make sure they are coated in the sauce, stir on a handful of chopped parsley and then transfer to a large baking dish or tray.
- Add fresh chunks (450g) of mozzarella cheese on top, as well as fresh basil leaves, the remaining 1/3 of freshly grated Parmigaino Reggiano cheese and some cracked pepper.
- Bake in your oven on the top shelf at 200 for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is golden.
- Remove out of the oven and add some more fresh basil leaves on top and serve hot and immediately with a fresh salad and/or garlic bread.
Can you make this recipe vegan?
Yes! I'd recommend making a potato gnocchi instead, and using 2 tablespoons of olive oil to substitute the egg yolks. It won't be yellow in colour, but you should get a similar consistency. The sauce is vegan friendly, you would just need to use vegan cheese instead.
Can you use a higher moisture mozzarella ball (like buffalo) or just stick to the hard cheeses?
Yes you sure can but I'd recommend adding it towards the end with 5-10 minutes to go as it's very soft and a high melting cheese.
The reason why I prefer normal mozzarella is because it's firstly a lot cheaper, and in a recipe like this where you are baking the dish for 10 minutes, the harder consistency of the cheese will melt perfectly in that time (so long as you don't overcook it!). For something as expensive and special as Buffalo mozzarella, I'd eat that fresh as is, in a salad or on some pizza.
Could we skip the baking and just eat it at the step before the baking? Would it taste okay?
Absolutely! I would add in some pasta water to the sauce an cook it in the pan for 2 mins for it to coat and you'll then have turned it into GNOCCHI ALLA POMODORO!