If you're looking for the ultimate Italian comfort food, these Gnocchi Sorrentina are a must-try! Made-from-scratch with a simple tomato and mozzarella sauce!
Sometimes, the simplest dishes make the best comfort food. Made from scratch, gnocchi require just 3 basic ingredients: potatoes, flour, and a beaten egg. Coated in a simple tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil, these Gnocchi Sorrentina will feed and satisfy a crowd! Whether you're making these from scratch or using store bought gnocchi, this mouthwatering dish loaded with Mediterranean flavors is a must-try for Italian food lovers.
This recipe had been sitting on my blog to-do list for some time now. When I finally managed to get my hands on a good gnocchi board just last week, I thought it was time to share this recipe from scratch.
Making gnocchi at home is a fairly simple process. Whilst homemade gnocchi don't require any special tools or techniques, they do require some patience and time. If you're a fan of Italian cuisine and love trying from-scratch recipes, I do suggest you try making gnocchi at least once. However, if time is a constraint, I would recommend using plain store-bought gnocchi for this recipe. These should be easily available from any major supermarket (and very inexpensive too). It will save you time and a messy kitchen!
What are Gnocchi?
Gnocchi are a type of dumpling, originating from Italy. The dough for gnocchi is typically made using basic ingredients including potatoes, flour (or semolina) and eggs and then individually sliced and hand-shaped.
Gnocchi can be smooth or they can contain ridges (which help hold more sauce) and are usually served in sauce, similar to pasta.
What are Gnocchi Sorrentina?
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina are gnocchi which are tossed in a simple tomato sauce, diced mozzarella (and grated cheese), and fresh basil. These are then baked or grilled for a short time until the mozzarella melts to perfection.
Ingredients and Variations
This post and recipe card contains detailed step-by-step instructions for making homemade gnocchi from scratch. If you prefer using store-bought gnocchi (you will need around 600g/1.3lb), please skip these steps and start from the gnocchi cooking/boiling steps.
For the homemade gnocchi, you will need:
Potatoes - You will need potatoes with the skin on. Make sure to wash them and clean them before using but do not peel them before boiling them. Leaving the skin on will ensure they remain dry from the inside. Avoid using new potatoes. All-purpose potatoes are perfect for gnocchi.
Flour - All-purpose flour
Egg - You will need around 2-3 tablespoons of beaten egg (1 egg is enough and will leave you with some leftover egg)
Salt - For flavor
For the Sorrentina sauce, you will need:
Canned Tomatoes - You can use peeled canned tomatoes or tomato passata, whatever is available to you.
Garlic - You will need 2 minced garlic cloves.
Olive Oil - For the base of the sauce and sauteeing the garlic.
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese - Use fresh, classic, traditional mozzarella (fior di latte mozzarella) made with whole cow's milk. You will need to dice or thinly slice mozzarella for it to melt into the sauce.
Grated Cheese - You can use either Parmesan cheese or Pecorino cheese. Ideally, use freshly-grated cheese. Pre-packed grated cheese typically contains lots of preserves, making it rubbery.
Basil - Use fresh basil leaves leaves if possible.
Salt and Pepper - To taste
How to Make Gnocchi From Scratch
- Wash and clean the potatoes - but leave the skin on!
Leaving the skin on will prevent the potato from getting too moist.
- Place potatoes in a large saucepan filled with cold water.
Make sure that the potatoes are well covered in water.
- Cook potatoes for 25-30 minutes, or until fork-tender.
Timing depends on the size and thickness of potatoes. You'll need to bring water to a boil and cover the saucepan.
- Once potatoes are tender, drain them and peel them.
The skin should come off easily, just be careful as the potatoes are still hot (you can also remove the skin using a fork and knife).
Don't let potatoes cool down too much, otherwise it'll be difficult to remove the peel and mash them.
- Transfer peeled potatoes to a large bowl. Mash them using a potato masher or pass them through a potato ricer.
Make sure to get rid of any large lumps.
- Once mashed, allow potatoes to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Add the flour (starting with around 1 cup flour), salt, and 2-3 tablespoons of beaten egg.
- Using your hands, work the mixture to a smooth dough. Try to work as quickly as possible. Add some more flour if needed, but do not overwork the dough.
The dough should not be sticky but should hold together.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a cylinder (thumb-thickness) on a lightly-floured surface.
Make sure to lightly flour your working surface as the dough should not stick to the surface.
- Lightly flour a large plate or baking tray with parchment paper.
- Using a sharp knife, slice dough cylinders into 2cm/¾" squares (these will look like pillows) and transfer each onto the plate/baking sheet.
Make sure dough pieces do not touch each other.
- Repeat for the remaining dough.
- You can either leave the gnocchi smooth or you can create ridges that will hold the sauce better.
To create rigdes, you can either use a lightly-floured gnocchi board and roll each piece over it, or you can roll each piece over the back of a fork.
Transfer ridged gnocchi back to floured plate/baking sheet.
- Allow the gnocchi to rest, uncovered at room temperature, for 15-20 minutes. This will prevent them from sticking to each other when boiled. Do not skip this step. In the meantime, you can start preparing your Sorrentina sauce.
How to Make Gnocchi Sorrentina
- Preheat grill to 250°C (500F) and prepare a 9x9" (or similar) oven-safe pan.
- Heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add canned tomatoes/passata and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-20 minutes until sauce has thickened.
- To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Carefully add the gnocchi. Gnocchi will be cooked once they rise/float to the surface. This should take less than 2 minutes.
- Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer the gnocchi to the skillet with tomato sauce.
- Toss the gnocchi to coat thoroughly with tomato sauce. Add sliced mozzarella and fresh basil leaves and mix to combine.
- Transfer mixture to baking pan, top with shredded parmesan/pecorino cheese and grill for 8-10 minutes until mozzarella cheese melts and gnocchi turn slightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly, and serve!
Tips for the Best Gnocchi
- Avoid using new potatoes and keep the skin on when boiling them. This will ensure that the potatoes remain dry when mashed.
- Lightly-flour all work surfaces that will touch with gnocchi dough or gnocchi, to prevent them from sticking together.
- Allow gnocchi to rest for 15-20 minutes before cooking them, but not much more than that. This will prevent them from sticking together when cooking. Allowing them to rest for too long (more than 30 minutes) will dry them out and should be avoided.
- Do not overwork the dough, and try to work as quickly as possible. The dough should be smooth and should hold together but should not be sticky. Avoid adding too much extra flour.
- Once gnocchi are sliced and shaped/ridged, avoid handling them unnecessarily as it will ruin their shape. Place them on a lightly floured plate/baking sheet and slowly "slide" them into boiling water to cook them. Do not stir gnocchi when cooking.
Gnocchi Sorrentina are best served fresh and warm. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to days.
Rewarm in a microwave before serving.
Gnocchi can be left uncooked, to rest, at room temperature for up to 30 minutes (not more).
You can freeze uncooked gnocchi for up to a month.
Freeze cut gnocchi on a lightly floured tray for 30 minutes, then transfer them to a freezer-safe bag.
You can then cook gnocchi straight from the freezer without the need to defrost them.
Use all-purpose potatoes with the skin on. Avoid using new potatoes.
Whilst this is not mandatory, ridged gnocchi tend to hold more sauce.
If you don't own a gnocchi board, you can create ridges using the back of a fork.
More Comfort Food Recipes
- 500 g potatoes with skin on (1.1 lbs)
- 1 egg beaten
- 120-150 g all-purpose flour (approx. 1 cup)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 batch homemade gnocchi (or 1.3 lb store-bought gnocchi)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 400 g canned peeled tomatoes or passata (1 can/0.9 lbs)
- 5-6 fresh basil leaves
- 250 g fresh mozzarella (½ lbs)
- 4 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese or pecorino romano
- salt and pepper to taste
How to Make Gnocchi From Scratch
- Wash and clean potatoes but do not peel them. Fill a large saucepan with cold water, add potatoes, and cook on high heat for 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender.
- Drain cooked potatoes, allow to cool for 5-7 minutes, and carefully remove the peel, which should come off easily using your hands.
- Pass peeled potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl or mash them using a potato masher, making sure to get rid of large lumps.
- Allow mashed potatoes to cool for 10-15 minutes. Then, add salt, flour, and 2-3 tbsp. of beaten egg. Start with the minimum amount of flour (1 cup/120g). Using your hands, work the mixture to a smooth dough (you may need to add some more flour), but do not overwork the dough. Try to work as quickly as possible. The dough should hold together and should not be sticky.
- Divide the dough in 4 and roll each piece into a long cylinder (thumb-thickness) onto a lightly floured surface (you don't want the gnocchi dough to stick to the surface as you are rolling into a cylinder).
- Slice the dough into 2cm (¾") squares and transfer each piece onto a lightly-floured plate.
- You can either leave the gnocchi smooth or your can create ridges (that are meant to hold the sauce).For ridged gnocchi, roll each piece onto a lightly-floured gnocchi board or ruler. If you don't have an gnocchi board, you can roll each piece over the back of a fork.
- Before cooking, allow gnocchi to rest, uncovered, on a lightly floured surface at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. This will dry them out slightly and prevent them from sticking together whilst cooking. In the meantime, you can prepare the sauce.
- Heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large skillet. Add minced garlic cloves and saute for 30 seconds on medium heat.
- Add canned tomatoes/passata, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
Assembly and Baking
- Preheat the grill to 250°C (500F) and prepare a 9x9" (or similar) baking dish. Dice mozzarella and slice basil leaves and set aside.
- To cook gnocchi: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi and boil until they rise to the surface of the pan (1-2 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked gnocchi to skillet with tomato sauce.
- Toss gnocchi in tomato sauce to coat thoroughly. Then, add fresh basil leaves and diced mozzarella. Transfer to baking dish and top with freshly-grated parmesan/pecorino cheese.
- Grill for 8-10 minutes until mozzarella cheese has melted and gnocchi are slightly golden brown at the surface.
- Allow the gnocchi to cool slightly, and serve with freshly grated cheese, salt and pepper as desired.