Gnocchi alla Sorrentina - A Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole from Southern Italy
This crowd-pleaser from Sorrento is a typical dish of Neapolitan cuisine. A bright tomato sauce gets richness from a hearty dose of cheese and is mixed with fresh gnocchi, topped with more cheese and baked to result in a casserole that is nothing short of amazing.
- 1 lb. of fresh gnocchi
- 1 ball (aprox. 7 oz) of fresh buffalo mozzarella
- 15 oz. of tomato passata (uncooked tomato purée)
- 1 bunch of fresh basil (aprox. 20 whole leaves), finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cipollini onion (or ½ of a white onion), thinly sliced
- 4 tbl. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a sauce pot and sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft.
- Add the garlic and half of the basil and cook until the garlic is golden and the basil starts to crisp.
- Mix in the tomato passata and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano over low heat, adding salt to taste.
- Cover the sauce and cook on low for for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop ½ of the mozzarella and preheat the oven to 475F.
- When the sauce is done cooking, add in the mozzarella, stirring until there are no lumps, then stir in the rest of the basil and leave on the stove top, simmering.
- Meanwhile, boil the gnocchi in salted water for 3-5 minutes, removing them with a slotted spoon and setting them aside as they rise to the top of the pot.
- Carefully mix the gnocchi into the sauce over low heat, then transfer the sauced gnocchi into a well greased cast iron pan or small casserole dish.
- Top the gnocchi mix with slices of the remaining mozzarella, and then with the remaining grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
- Let cool for a couple of minutes, then serve.
Some cooks use more oil in the sauce and remove the cooked onion, garlic and basil before incorporating the tomato passata. The method you choose is up to you, but we like to leave everything in our sauce. Like many Italian dishes, this recipe is very simple, and how it turns out will be directly effected by the quality of ingredients you cook with, so use the best you can find!