Potato gnocchi covered in tomato basil sauce topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheese and gratiné baked in the oven.
Every 29th is Gnocchi Day in Argentina. You may wonder why all the way down in South America we would dedicate a special day of every month to an Italian dish. The answer lies in the fact that as in immigrant country, a big part of our heritage is Italian, as the last wave of immigration in the early 20th century was in its majority Italian. This explains why almost every restaurant in Argentina has pasta as part of their menu, and why ice cream is a big deal back home, and also why we eat a lot of pizza.
Bearing this in mind, it is said that the celebration of Gnocchi day originates amongst these immigrants, that got their paycheck at the beginning of the month, and by the 29th, not much was left, only enough to buy potatoes, some flour and an egg. All that you need to put together this delicious dish.
This tradition has been going on ever since, and on the 29th we eat gnocchi, or we should anyway! If you want to celebrate this day the right way, you should also put money underneath your plate, it's supposed to bring you fortune. You should give it a try... you never know, right?
Personally I love gnocchi, I keep thinking that I might have been Italian in a different lifetime. I haven't always been a fan of potato gnocchi; as a matter of fact when I was a kid I did not like them at all. And because my dad didn't like them either, we never had them at home. Our family never actually did the Gnocchi Day.
I remember exactly that I became increasingly fond of these cute dumplings when I was around 16 or 17. We were on a family skiing trip, down in Bariloche, and they happened to be on the menu at the hotel restaurant we were staying in. So by night number four, running out of options, I decided to go for them. At that time, they were served in a creamy sauce with tons of Parmesan. Let me tell you I fell in love.
It became my go-to dish if I was at an Italian restaurant. Also, I used to have them at my cousin Magda's house now and again; they were really good. Soft but not chewy. The perfect consistency.
One of the best gnocchi I ever had was at my aunt Cuti's, they were served with a veal ragu that was to die for! I remember it was a cold winter day and she invited me over for lunch, and when I opened the kitchen door the whole counter was filled with gnocchi ready to be cooked. And let me tell you, over at her house, it is a big, long counter that they have. In other words, a lot of gnocchi!
The recipe I'm making today comes from the Sorrento region in Italy. I first tried them when I visited Italy a couple of years ago, and I thought it was the perfect marriage between gnocchi and sauce. Alla Sorrentina means that we are talking about a tomato, mozzarella and basil sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan and usually "gratiné" in the oven. It’s very tasty, and the sauce is very easy to prepare!
As far as making the gnocchi goes, the tricky part is finding the balance between a chewy gnocchi and a hard one. I'll tell you exactly the tricks to end up with the perfect dumpling! You won't be disappointed.
And it's the 29th, you must prepare this delicious dish. I for one, I've decided to rectify my past, and as of today Gnocchi Day is a thing at my house! Happy Gnocchi Day.