Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a mouthwatering dish hailing from the Sorrento region in Italy. It consists of soft potato gnocchi baked in a rich tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil, creating a comforting and cheesy delight.
For the Gnocchi:
1 kg (2.2 lbs) potatoes (choose starchy potatoes like Russet)
250g (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 large egg
Salt, to taste
For the Tomato Sauce:
800g (28 oz) canned crushed tomatoes or passata
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish
250g (9 oz) fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced or torn into small pieces
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
1. Boil the Potatoes: Wash the potatoes and place them, unpeeled, in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until they are fork-tender (around 20-25 minutes). Drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly.
2. Prepare the Tomato Sauce: While the potatoes are boiling, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chopped onion, and sauté until the onion becomes translucent. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
3. Make the Gnocchi: Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and pass them through a potato ricer or mash them until smooth. Add the egg and a pinch of salt, and mix well. Gradually add the flour, kneading the mixture until you get a smooth and slightly sticky dough. Be careful not to over-knead, as it can make the gnocchi tough.
4. Shape the Gnocchi: On a floured surface, take a portion of the dough and roll it into a long rope about 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) in diameter. Cut the rope into small pieces, around 2.5 cm (1 inch) each. You can use the back of a fork to create the traditional ridges on each gnocchi.
5. Cook the Gnocchi: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, and cook until they float to the surface (usually around 2-3 minutes). Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in a lightly greased baking dish.
6. Assemble the Dish: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Pour the tomato sauce over the gnocchi, ensuring they are well coated. Add the torn basil leaves and distribute the mozzarella pieces over the top.
Bake: Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly.
Serve: Once the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is out of the oven, garnish with some fresh basil leaves and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve hot and enjoy this delightful Italian comfort food!