Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a pasta dish from Campania prepared with potato gnocchi, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. The recipe gets its name from the city of Sorrento, in the province of Naples, where it is served in an earthenware pot called a pignatiello.
A popular local dish, gnocchi alla Sorrentina is characterized by a wonderful tomato sauce, which can also be prepared with fresh cherry tomatoes. There are many variations, including replacing the mozzarella with buffalo mozzarella,scamorza, or smoked Provola or adding extra ingredients such as mushrooms or eggplant.
Equipment needed for gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Gnocchetti alla Sorrentina is very easy to make, especially if you start with store bought gnocchi. To up the challenge, you can make gnocchi from scratch, however you will then find it useful to have a gnocchi board, potato ricer (or potato masher) and a pastry board, besides the equipment listed below.
large pot for the pasta water
skillet or sauce pan
You will spend less than an hour in the kitchen making our delicious gnocchi alla Sorrentina recipe.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina ingredient list
Are you ready to use fresh ingredients to make a dish full of Mediterranean flavors? We love Sorrento style gnocchi and once you try them you are sure to be hooked too! If you plan to make the gnocchi as well, you will also need 1 kilo of Russet or red potatoes or any potato that is starchy for a lighter, fluffier gnocchi, as well as 300 grams of all-purpose flour, 1 medium egg and a pinch of salt. Or just followour homemade gnocchi recipe.
Potato gnocchi (1.76 lbs | 800 grams) – this recipe calls for store bought gnocchi from the refrigerated pasta section of the store or from an Italian deli. When buying packaged gnocchi, we highly recommend using the one with the least amount of ingredients, ideally just potatoes, flour, water and salt for the most genuine flavor. You can also make homemade gnocchi for this recipe.
Tomato puree (3.05 cups | 800 grams) – to make your sauce you can use a puree or a can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes that you then crush and cook (cooking time for the sauce will be longer than if you use puree). You can also use fresh cherry tomatoes that have been cut into quarters and cooked down and crushed (add an additional 10-20 minutes of cooking time for the sauce when using fresh tomatoes).
Fresh mozzarella cheese (1.79 cups | 200 grams) – fresh cow’s milk mozzarella cheese is truly divine! If it is properly drained the cheese melts very well and makes a great baked gnocchi dish. Also perfect for mozzarella in carrozza recipe. Alternatives include buffalo mozzarella, scamorza (either smoked or regular, basically a drier mozzarella cheese) or Provola or Provolone cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (0.42 cups | 100 grams) – you can use pre grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese, depending on your preference.
Onion (1/2) – for a stronger onion flavor use a white or yellow onion. If you prefer a sweeter, more mild flavor you can use a red onion. See our garlic alternative in the variations below if you a garlic lover!
Fresh basil (1 bunch) – wash the bunch of basil and then remove the basil leaves carefully and throw out the stems. Gently spin the basil in a salad spinner or pat them dry carefully with a paper towel. Be sure not to crush the leaves because it makes them turn black.
Extra virgin olive oil (as needed) – a good-quality extra virgin olive oil from Southern Italy is perfect to use in this sauce.
Salt (to taste) – kosher salt or fine sea salt.
How to make this gnocchi alla Sorrentina recipe step by step
This recipe for gnocchi alla Sorrentina with tomato sauce is a baked gnocchi dream and is sure to rank high on your delicious food list. What’s more, this recipe calls for store bought gnocchi, so all you have to do is cook gnocchi, make the tomato sauce and bake gnocchi alla Sorrentina in a baking dish in the oven until it gets a crispy crust and then serve and enjoy!
Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
Drain all the excess liquid from the mozzarella and cut into cubes photo 1. Place the mozzarella in a colander in the sink so that it continues to drain any excess liquid photo 2.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the gnocchi.
To make the sauce, start by peeling and chopping half an onion. In a large skillet or saute pan, pour a drizzling of olive oil photo 3 and place the oven on medium heat, then add the onion and saute until golden, stirring occasionally photo 4.
Next, add the tomato puree, canned tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes and season with salt. Cook the sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon so that it does not stick to the bottom and burn. Add cooking time for whole or fresh tomatoes photo 5-6.
Turn off the heat before the sauce thickens too much and add the fresh basil. Do not chop it, it is better to leave the basil leaves whole photo 7-8.
The salted water should be boiling in the pot by now, so you can cook the gnocchi by dumping them gently into the water. Cook for 2 minutes or until the gnocchi rise to the surface, but be sure not to overcook. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer directly into an ovenproof baking dish photo 9.
Drizzle the gnocchi with tomato sauce photo 10 and add the mozzarella cheese cubes and stir gently to mix very briefly photo 11.
Finally, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese photo 12.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 °C for 10-15 minutes, until the Parmesan cheese turns golden and the melted mozzarella cheese is bubbling slightly photo 13-14.
Serve the baked gnocchi immediately while still hot by removing a single portion into a flat plate. You can decorate with fresh basil leaves if desired photo 15-16.
Expert tips for making the perfect gnocchi
Drain the mozzarella completely. Mozzarella is delicious, but it can be hard to use it properly because it comes in its own water or liquid. To use in this recipe it is very important that you drain the excess water completely and then place it in a colander in the sink so that it continues to drain. You can also pat it gently with a sturdy paper towel or push on it gently so that it releases more water and let it air dry while you prepare the other parts of the recipe.
Don’t overcook the gnocchi. You will want to boil the gnocchi for just enough time for them to float to the surface. If you like a more firm gnocchi, you can skip the step for boiling the gnocchi and simply bake them for a few minutes longer, but be sure that you use a little more sauce so that there is plenty of liquid for the gnocchi to absorb while cooking.
Go garlic! There are a lot of people out there who really love fresh garlic and use it in every sauce. Instead of adding the onion to the sauce, you can substitute with 2 garlic cloves. As in most Italian recipes, you can either crush the fresh garlic and leave it in the sauce for a more garlicky flavor, or leave the garlic cloves whole and remove them before using the sauce for a more mild flavor.
Use a different cheese. You can substitute the fresh mozzarella cheese with a fresh buffalo mozzarella and either smoked or regular Scamorza, Provola or Provolone (either smoked or regular).
Mix it up with mushrooms or eggplant. If you want to sneak some eggplant or mushrooms into this recipe, simply clean, chop and saute a cup of either eggplant or mushrooms with the extra virgin olive oil after you have added the onion and let saute for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Then proceed as directed to finish making the tomato sauce and mix in with the potato gnocchi as directed to make gnocchi alla Sorrentina with mushroom or eggplant. Yum!
How to store Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Remaining gnocchi alla Sorrentina can be stored in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for a maximum of two days. You can reheat the dish by adding a little olive oil and any remaining mozzarella or Parmesan and reheating in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomato sauce is bubbling hot and the cheese has melted again.
Can I prepare gnocchi alla Sorrentina ahead of time?
If you have invited a large number of guests for dinner or simply want to get a head start, you can prep gnocchi alla Sorrentina a few hours before the meal and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it.
Can I freeze gnocchi?
Yes, uncooked gnocchi can be frozen. To use, cook the frozen gnocchi in boiling water without defrosting them. Already cooked gnocchi can also be frozen, then let the frozen gnocchi thaw slightly at room temperature before reheating in the oven for 20 minutes with a little drizzle of olive oil and a little extra cheese.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina Recipe
A delicious, classic recipe from Campania with just a few simple ingredients, gnocchi alla Sorrentina is made from potato gnocchi, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
Drain all the excess liquid from the mozzarella and cut into cubes. Place the mozzarella in a colander in the sink so that it continues to drain any excess liquid.
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil to cook the gnocchi.
To make the tomato sauce, start by peeling and finely chopping half an onion. In a large skillet or saute pan, pour a drizzling of extra virgin olive oil and place oven medium heat, then add the onion and saute until golden.
Next, add the tomato puree and season with salt. Cook the tomato sauce for about 20 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon so that it does not stick to the bottom and burn.
Turn off the heat before the tomato sauce thickens too much and add the fresh basil. Do not chop it, but leave the basil leaves whole.
When the water is boiling you can add the potato gnocchi to the boiling water. Boil the gnocchi for 2 minutes or until they rise to the surface, but be sure not to overcook the gnocchi as they will turn to mush. Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer directly into an ovenproof baking dish.
Drizzle the potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and add half the mozzarella cheese cubes at a time and then fold in and repeat until you have used it all. Do not stir too much as you don’t want the mozzarella to form a blob and stick together, but instead you want it to be distributed throughout the dish and melt while baking.
Finally, sprinkle the gnocchi alla Sorrentina with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven at 390°F | 200 °C for 10-15 minutes, until the Parmesan cheese turns golden and the mozzarella is melted.
Serve the baked gnocchi immediately while still hot by removing a single portion and putting on an individual plate. You can decorate the plate with fresh basil leaves if desired.