Belula

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Belula July 28, 2015
45° shot of the baked gnocchi on a grey baking tray

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?

90° shot of the raw potato gnocchi on a wooden countertop
90° shot of raw tomatoes in a bowl
45° shot of diced tomatoes in a bowl
90° shot mashing potatoes

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.

Mixing the gnocchi dough with the hands
45° shot of the egg at the centre of the potato gnocchi dough
Closeup shot of the gnocchi alla sorrentina before baking
Overhead shot of the gnocchi alla sorrentina in the baking tray topped with parmesan cheese and mozzarella

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.

90° shot of a basil plant
Closeup overhead shot of the tomato sauce
Overhead shot of the shaped potato gnocchi on a wooden board
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Servings: 5 servings
Nutrition: 530 cal
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Gnocchi

  • Potatoes pulp 500 g
  • Flour 200 g
  • Egg Yolks 2
  • Parmesan 50 g
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Alla Sorrentina Sauce

  • Tomatoes medium size 2
  • Garlic 2
  • Olive Oil
  • Mozzarella if possible "di Buffala" 250 g
  • Basil Leaves 6

Procedure

  • Alla Sorrentina Sauce

  • 1. Peal and remove seeds from the tomatoes.
  • 2. Over medium-heat, heat the olive oil and then sweat the garlic cloves (pealed). Add the diced to tomatoes, and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves, and proceed to process the tomatoes using a food processor or an immersion blender.
  • 3. Put back over medium-heat and cook for about 30 minutes. You are looking for sauce consistency, so if after 30 minutes you notice it is still too liquid cook some more. If on contrary it has become too thick, you can always add some water.
  • 4. Add the basil leaves after 20 minutes.
  • 5. Season to taste and reserve covered with aluminum foil.
  • 6. Tip: Note bout the garlic: This is my preferred way. If you love garlic, you can always leave it in, and blend it together with the tomatoes. Or chop it really small at the beginning; instead of sweating the whole clove, you'd be sweating the chopped garlic (don't let it burn, as it doesn't taste good).
  • 7. If you don't have red, beautiful tomatoes, you can add some tomato paste for the color. If you do this, you should add it in at the start, before pouring the tomatoes in, and let it cook for several minutes so that you get rid of the acidity.
  • 8. The sauce can be frozen for up to 2 months. So while you are at it, make a big batch, which you can later use for other purposes, as it is a basic tomato sauce (ex. Bolognese Sauce or pizza are some of the things that come to mind).
  • 9. Remove the basil leaves before assembling the gnocchi (this way, it will infuse the sauce, but it won't change its color)
  • 10. Finally, I almost always (except today) add 1 onion to this sauce. It gives a little sweet taste to balance out the acidity of the tomato. If you do so, sweat the finely chopped onions (ciselé) in with the garlic, before you add the tomato paste and the tomatoes.
  • Gnocchi

  • 1. Cook the potatoes until tender. There are many ways to cook your potatoes for making gnocchi. Personally I prefer baking them in the oven, covered, with the skin. Why? It prevents to add even more water to the potatoes (they have a high content of water already! So if you have the opportunity to choose amongst different types of potatoes go for the one that has less water content, or in other words a higher content of starch. For example, the Russets).
  • 2. Once they are cooked, empty the potato using a spoon and mash the pulp using a food mill or a potato masher. It is very important that the potatoes remain warm during the whole process! It will prevent obtaining a chewy gnocchi. You can use gloves if necessary)
  • 3. Make a fountain with the flour, the mashed potatoes, the parmesan, salt and pepper. Using the tip of your fingers mix all of the ingredients together. Make a whole in the middle and incorporate the egg. Using your fingers continue to knead the dough until you obtain a ball that's dry to touch.
  • 4. Don't panic if the dough is sticky at the beginning. Try to avoid adding more flour even though you think it is absolutely necessary. You will be already adding more flour when rolling out the gnocchi.
  • 5. Cut a small piece out of the big ball and roll it out in a cylinder shape, or log shape thin and long; cut small pieces of about 1 cm - 1.5 cm (really it's up to you, and how big you want your gnocchi to be. I prefer mine on the small side of the size spectrum). Repeat the operation until you have no more dough left.
  • 6. When rolling out the gnocchi, make sure to flour your working surface so that your dough doesn't stick, that you are able to work properly, and that your gnocchi maintain the shape.
  • 7. Finally, if you want to, using a fork, shape your gnocchi toward a rounder shape. I confess, I skipped this part, and they turned out perfect anyway. But, in all honesty, you are supposed to do this, because the small hole you end up with at the back of the gnocchi, this is where sauce finds its happy place. Or so they say in Italy.
  • Finishing Touches

  • 1. Pre-heat the oven at 180 C.
  • 2. In a pot, heat up your tomato sauce.
  • 3. Cook the gnocchi in a big pot with simmering (this is key, do not cook your gnocchi in high heated boiling water. A simple simmer is enough), salted water. When they mount to surface, and float, that's when, using a skimmer, you transfer them to the pot that has the tomato sauce in it. Repeat the operation until you have no more gnocchi left.
  • 4. Slice the mozzarella.
  • 5. In an oven baking dish, pour half the gnocchi drenched in tomato sauce. Cover with mozzarella. Cover with the rest of the gnocchi, and cover one more time with the rest of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  • 6. Bake in the oven (the top part would be perfect, because we are looking for the browning of the mozzarella, since the gnocchi are cooked already, and also hot), until the top is golden brown.
  • 7. When serving each individual plate, add some basil leaves for décor!
  • 8. Tip: To be better organized, ideally, you should first cook your potatoes since it will probably take a while.
  • 9. While they are cooking, prepare your sauce. And while the sauce is cooking, make your gnocchi.
  • 10. Before rolling out the gnocchi, finish your sauce. Then you are ready to cook your gnocchi and almost ready to eat them too.
4 comments
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4 Comments
Sofia July 29, 2015

Que buena pinta! Los hare pronto sin duda.

Belén Gowland
Belula July 30, 2015

Hola Sofi! Gracias!! Cuando los hagas, contame como te va con la receta :)

ines palan July 29, 2015

TAN BIEN EXPLICADO Y, SOBRE TODO.... TAN RICO. ESTE FINDE EN EL GCA, GNOCCHI ALLA SORRENTINA !!!!

Belén Gowland
Belula July 30, 2015

Ine!! Graciasssssss. Laue bueno que encuentres que está bien explicado!!!! Me pone contenta! Good luck con los gnocchis en GCA!!

Mercedes July 30, 2015

Mi Profe preferida,,,, este fin lo hago besoteeeeeee

Belén Gowland
Belula August 05, 2015

gracias Mer!!! y como salieron?

Alain April 03, 2017

Excellente recette. Je l'ai essayé en mon temps libre et c'était délicieux. Merci

Belén Gowland
Belula April 17, 2017

Bonsoir Alain ! Ahhh quelle bonne nouvelle ! :) Merci d'avoir partagé !!

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