A perfect first course for Sunday lunch but also when you want a vegetarian and Neapolitan dish. Here's the original Gnocchi alla Sorrentina recipe.
You are wandering around Naples and feel a little hungry, but you'd like to try something different than pizza.
In any inn, tavern or diner around the city you have to know that you'll find many meat and fish based options, but if you prefer to taste something vegetarian and comfy, you absolutely must not miss the delicious gnocchi alla sorrentina.
A classic from Naples or more generally from Campania cuisine, the gnocchi alla sorrentina are small and soft potato dumplings coming from the city of Sorrento, as you can guess by their name, and they use to be served during the typical Sunday lunch. Their recipe includes also a smelling tomato and basil sauce and lots of stringy provola cheese.
Follow our recipe to be sure to catch all your guests with a perfect dish of Sorrento-style gnocchi: let's go!
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina: Ingredients for 4 servings
The wooden rigagnocchi to shape your hanmdaid potatoes gnocchi in classic style
800 g of potato gnocchi
a bottle of tomato sauce (about 750 ml)
250 g of smoked Agerola provola or mozzarella cheese
½ white onion
a clove of garlic
grated parmigiano cheese to taste
olive oil to taste
basil leaves to taste
If you want to prepare the gnocchi by hand:
1 kg of "old" potatoes
300 g of 00 flour
Salt to taste
Gnocchi alla sorrentina's recipe
If you choose to prepare the gnocchi by hand, start by filling a tall pot with cold water. Choose "old" potatoes – bought several days before and slightly wrinkled on the surface. Wash them carefully and place them into the water; light the fire and boil them until they become tender – you should easly dip the fork into the pulp, after 20-30 minutes about.
Mash the potatoes in a bowl. This operation, if done by hand, implies that the potatoes are peeled, but if it is done with a potato masher, it implies that the potatoes have to be whole (the peel will come off by itself).
Let the mashed potatoes cool a bit and when they're warm gradually add the flour and salt and mix until you get a smooth dough.
Take a small piece from it to form, one at a time, long and thick logs – just spreading the dough pieces with your fingers directly on the table. Use a knife and cut the strip into many small cubes.
Now you should stop and keep on the recipe, but if you prefer the classic striped shape, pass the cubes on the back of a fork or on the wooden gnocchi board. Your gnocchi are ready to be cooked, but if you are in hurry you could buy them as well – they'll be equally delicious!
Fill another pot with salted water. While you wait for it to boil (or while you prepare the pasta by hand) deal with of the sauce.
Pour the oil into a smaller pot, together with the chopped onion and the garlic clove to be sauted. Then pour the tomato sauce and season it with salt and basil leaves.
As the water boils, pour the dumplings. This kind of pasta has a really short cooking time, about 2-3 minutes, and so you can drain them when you see them rising to the surface.
Turn off the heat under the sauce and start pouring it into the pot with the gnocchi and stir.
Now you can choose whether to add the provola cheese directly into the pot and then serve or whether to put them in the oven for a final step; we will opt for this option. Pour the gnocchi with sauce into a casserole (preferably in terracotta), add the chopped provola and the grated parmesan and let them bake.
After 10-15 minutes, your gnocchi will have gain a crispy and golden surface: it's time to take them out and serve!
Gnocchi alla sorrentina dish, cooked in oven and served in a terracotta casserole
The recipe of the gnocchi alla sorrentina probably dates back to the XVII century, when, according to a legend, the cook of an inn in Tasso square, in Sorrento, decided to experiment in cooking with two new ingredients from South America: potatoes and tomatoes.
The malleability of the potatoes made it possible for him to create the delicious, fluffy pasta, consisting of small dumplings that would not disintegrate in boiling water but could remain compact. On the other hand, with tomatoes, he made a delicious sauce for the dressing, which he enriched with basil. He completed his new recipe with the smoked provola cheese frome Agerola, a typical local product called after the town near Naples.
Variations and suggestions
Of course, as happens very often, there are different versions of the recipe for gnocchi alla sorrentina: for the cheesy component, some prefer to add mozzarella cheese, others (like us) opt for provola cheese, preferably the smoked one from Agerola, a real delicacy even eaten as an appetizer, which is able to give a special flavor to the dish and which does not lose much water in cooking.
Some people, as we said, prefer to save time and buy ready-made gnocchi, while others enjoy them strictly homemade, following grandma's recipe.
Someone complete the dish in the pot before serving it, others like a final step in the oven to make the gnocchi more golden and scenic, just like us.
Again, as in our other recipes, we encourage you to follow your tastes and your stomach!