Gnocchi with Tomato and Mozzarella (Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina)

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May 17, 2013 by Bloke In A Kitchen

Another absolutely delicious gnocchi recipe, this time taken from the ‘Two Greedy Italians’ cookbook, the BBC TV series with Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio.  The slightly melted mozzarella in the rich tomato sauce, along with a few other simple ingredients, makes a perfect combination.  Any decent Italian restaurant would be proud to serve this up.

Gnocchi are small light fluffy Italian dumplings, like little pillows, and it’s definitely worth the effort to make your own – so much better than the supermarket variety.  If you have too much gnocchi dough, don’t worry, wrap it in clingfilm and it’ll keep in the freezer really well for another day.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 people

Gnocchi

1kg floury potatoes, roughly the same size

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium free range egg

300g plain flour

Sauce

5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

700g tinned chopped tomatoes

A little sugar to taste *

A handful of basil leaves, plus a few extra to garnish

200g mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes

100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated / shaved

* Personally, I find that I usually need to add a little sugar to my tomato sauces, and it really helps bring all the flavours together nicely (a technique also often used in South East Asian cookery).  Add a teaspoon, and have a taste.  You can always add a little more later, so don’t add too much at once.

Method

First place the potatoes, with their skins on, in a saucepan, almost cover with boiling water, add some salt, then put a lid on and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until tender. You can check if they’re cooked by using a wooden cocktail stick.

Plunge the potatoes into coldwater, and remove the skins.  They should come off quite easily by simply rubbing off the skin.  Mash the potatoes well, until smooth and fluffy.  Leave the mashed potatoes to cool.

Next, add the sifted flour to the potatoes, along with the beaten egg, season lightly with salt and black pepper, and using a fork, slowly bring the mixture together. Then, using your hands, knead the mixture to a smooth and slightly sticky dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and divide it into quarters. Roll each quarter into a sausage shape approximately ½ inch (1 cm) in diameter, then cut it, on the diagonal, into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces, placing them on a tray or plate as they are cut.  Place in the fridge whilst you make the sauce.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the garlic and sweat for a minute until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and basil, season with a little salt and black pepper, and a little sugar if you wish (not too much salt!  You can taste and add more later should you wish), and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until you have a thick, rich, deep red sauce.

To cook the gnocchi, bring a large pan of water to a boil. Whilst the water is on, put a serving dish in a low oven to warm through. Once the water is boiling, drop the gnocchi into the water and cook for about 3 minutes.  Drain the gnocchi, and add to the sauce, stir in the mozzarella and half the Parmesan and cook for a further minute or so, until the mozzarella begins to melt a little.  (You don’t want the mozzarella to melt completely into the sauce, the texture of the cheese still needs to be there, which is one of the things that makes this dish so wonderful!)

Remove from the heat, and serve straight away with the remaining Parmesan, basil leaves and black pepper to taste.

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