Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a traditional Italian recipe typical of the cuisine of Campania, in particular of Sorrento, from which it takes its name.
Potato gnocchi, tomato passata, mozzarella cheese, basil and parmigiano cheese. These are the few and simple ingredients that hold the best Mediterranean flavors and aromas.
The recipe of gnocchi alla Sorrentina is very simple: it’s simply baked gnocchi in tomato sauce and mozzarella.
First you have to make a tomato sauce, then boil the gnocchi, finally mix them in a pan with the sauce. Bake for a few minutes with some mozzarella and basil to form the toasted cheesy crust, typical of this dish of incomparable deliciousness!
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina are perfect for Sunday lunch with the family, but also for special evenings with friends. You can make them pretty quickly! You only need to have a little patience if you make the gnocchi with your own hands, as we are going to show you in this recipe.
Follow our step-by-step recipe and you will bring to the table Gnocchi alla Sorrentina worthy of the best restaurants in Campania.
Everyone will compliment you and ask for the recipe!
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Gnocchi alla Sorrentina Recipe
- Prep Time: 15 Min with the gnocchi already done. If you’re making homemade gnocchi, allow an extra hour.
- cook Time: 30 Min
- Yelds: 4
For Homemade Gnocchi Recipe: (about 800 g- 1,7 lb x 4 people)
- 500 g (about 1 lb) of potatoes
- 150 g (1 cup) of flour
- 1 medium egg
- 1/2 teaspoon of fine salt
For Sorrentina Sauce:
- 500 g (2 cups) of tomato passata. We recommend Italian Passata Rustica by Sanniti. Or make homemade tomato passata with our recipe.
- 300 g (about 10 oz) of fresh mozzarella cheese
- 60 g (3/4 cup) of grated parmigiano cheese
- 1 clove of garlic
- 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- fresh basil
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
How to Make Homemade Gnocchi
Making gnocchi from scratch is really worth it, even if it takes a lot longer (plan on about 1 hour of extra time). It’s a fairly easy recipe and makes this dish even more delicious.
We are going to show you how to make homemade gnocchi, how to cook them, and how to freeze them so they’re always ready!
Step 1) – Boil potatoes in a large pot with plenty of water. Occasionally, feel with a fork to check cooking time. This takes 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes.
When they are cooked, drain them and remove the skin. Then mash the potatoes with a potato masher.
Step 2) – Separately, beat the egg in a bowl with a fork. Then add the flour to the potatoes, salt and finally add 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg.
Step 3) – Mix the ingredients with your hands for a few minutes. The dough should be soft but firm. Make a ball and flour it.
Step 4) – Cut a piece of dough, about the size of a tennis ball. Place it on the pastry board and, with the help of your hands, make a roll of dough about one finger thick.
Step 5) – Cut the roll every 2 cm (about 1 inch), so that you get small cylinders. Now you can use a gnocchi board previously floured: slide your little gnocchi over the gnocchi board by pressing lightly with your thumb in the middle.
Proceed to make potato gnocchi until all the dough is done. This STEP IS OPTIONAL. It’s usually done because the lines and hollow left by the thumb hold the sauce better.
Let the gnocchi rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes before cooking them.
Now the gnocchi are ready. You can use them right away to make the gnocchi alla sorrentina recipe or freeze to have them always ready and available. Read the paragraph further down” How to Freeze Homemade Gnocchi”.
For more information, details and insights on the potato gnocchi recipe, see How to Make Potato Gnocchi
How to Make Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Step 1) – Cut the mozzarella into cubes. You’ll use them at the end to dress the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina. Drain the mozzarella in a colander to remove as much water as possible.
Make Tomato Sauce
Step 2) – Meanwhile, in a non-stick saucepan, sauté the garlic in extra virgin olive oil, peeled and whole.
Add the tomato passata, basil, a little salt and some ground black pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat to low and keep cooking for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover with a lid.
Be careful to remove the garlic clove before using this flavorful tomato sauce.
How to Cook Gnocchi
Step 3) – Now you need to cook the gnocchi. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils add the coarse salt. Pour in the gnocchi a few at a time. When the gnocchi come to the surface, it means they are cooked.
Step 4) – Drain them with a slotted spoon when they float.
Season and Bake Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Step 5) – Pour the gnocchi directly into the pan with the tomato sauce. Add half of the mozzarella cubes. Stir gently with the heat off.
Step 6) – Transfer the gnocchi dressed with the tomato sauce to a baking dish, greased with a little oil. Add the remaining mozzarella cut into cubes on top. Sprinkle the top with plenty of grated Parmigiano cheese and a few basil leaves.
Bake Gnocchi alla Sorrentina in a static oven, preheated to the highest temperature, for about 5-10 minutes, until the mozzarella has softened.
You can even turn on the grill function for 3-4 minutes to get a crispy crust on the surface. Serve Gnocchi alla Sorrentina hot and steaming!
Store Gnocchi alla Sorrentina in the refrigerator for 1 day covered with plastic wrap.
They can also be frozen, already baked. Thaw at room temperature before reheating in the oven.
How to Freeze Homemade Gnocchi
To have homemade gnocchi always ready, you can freeze them.
Here’s how to do it: place the potato gnocchi, well spaced, on floured trays. Place the trays with the gnocchi in the freezer. Wait 2/3 hours then transfer them to plastic food bags and place them back in the freezer.
Frozen gnocchi can last in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Cook the still frozen gnocchi a few at a time in boiling water (as directed above), straight from the freezer to the pot. This way they will retain the softness and texture of freshly made potato gnocchi.
What Kind of Mozzarella is Best for Gnocchi alla Sorrentina?
Essential for this recipe is to use a fresh and high quality mozzarella. Fiordilatte or Bufala, according to your taste. You can even use small mozzarellas (“ciliegine” or “ovoline”), without cutting them. Try these little Fresh Mozzarella Cheese by Crave Brothers.
DO NOT use pre-grated mozzarella or packaged mozzarella substitutes.
It’s very important to drain the mozzarellas very well and dry them as much as possible from their whey. In fact, excess liquid could leak out during cooking and ruin the gratin.
The Tomato Sauce, Some Variants.
To make this recipe we used tomato passata, which is the basic ingredient of many Italian recipes.
During the summer, this dish is a great way to use fresh, ripe tomatoes, which are very sweet. You can even add whole cherry tomatoes at the end, as a garnish along with basil leaves.
The Tradition of ” PIGNATIELLO “, a Terracotta Pot
According to Neapolitan tradition, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina are served in an earthenware pot, called “Pignatiello” in Neapolitan dialect.
They transfer the seasoned gnocchi to the terracotta pan, ready for cooking. Terracotta is ideal for grating and keeping the heat of the food for a long time. Then, given the beauty of these dishes, they serve the gnocchi directly into the “Pignatiello”, hot and steaming.
A really nice and unique idea for dinners with friends is to use terracotta single-portion pans. From the oven directly to the table!
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina: Some Variants
The recipe for gnocchi alla sorrentina does not have many variations.
Like all the simple recipes of the Italian tradition, the success of this recipe is based on the respect of the authenticity and the accuracy of its few ingredients.
However, there are some variants worth talking about. Let’s see what they are:
Gnocchi alla Parmigiana
To make the dish richer, many add fried eggplant cubes, which certainly go very well with the mozzarella and tomato.
The result is a gnocchi dish that is very similar to Eggplant Parmigiana.
Gnocchi alla Pizzaiola
This is also a classic recipe of the Neapolitan tradition. The recipe is identical to the one for gnocchi alla Sorrentina, but they add oregano instead of basil.
Oregano is one of the most used aromatic plants in the Mediterranean cuisine. It’s used on Pizza Marinara or to make Marinara pasta sauce.
Pasta alla Sorrentina
Often, instead of potato gnocchi, they use pasta, seasoned in the same way and baked with the same cooking method.
The most used pasta shapes for this recipe are “Paccheri” and “Fusilli”.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina: the History
Where do Gnocchi alla Sorrentina come from? It’s a very ancient dish. It must be traced back to the 16th century, when the importation of potatoes into Europe from America began.
The Sorrento version was created by combining potato gnocchi with the traditional Neapolitan ingredients par excellence: tomato and mozzarella.
These are the most common ingredients in this area and protagonists of famous recipes such as caprese salad and pizza, just to mention the most famous ones.
It’s said that the authentic potato gnocchi were born in Campania, so much that there is a legend about it: one day an abbot from Campania, very greedy of gnocchi, ate so many of them that he choked.
Hence the nickname of gnocchi: “strangulaprievite” (strangle-priest).
Actually, it seems the nickname comes from even further away, from ancient Greece: in particular from the terms “strongulos” and “preptos”, which should indicate a round object such as a dumpling.