This gnocchi alla Sorrentina recipe is one authentic way of making this famous southern Italian dish. Stay away from recipes which call for packaged gnocchi or with a sauce filled with “lots of herbs and spices”!
When I was in Italy this past June, I asked my cousin, Gianfranco, if I could make Sunday dinner for my Zia Iolanda and him. He asked what I’d like to make, so I asked him what Zia likes. He didn’t even hesitate and said, “gnocchi alla Sorrentina.” Oh boy, I had to make gnocchi for the Queen of Gnocchi?!
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In true Italian style, Gianfranco and I went to the local caseificio to pick up freshly made bufala mozzarella for the gnocchi alla Sorrentina. Using the best quality ingredients is key in Italian cuisine (or any cuisine!)
One reason I want to post this recipe is because I saw one recently and the blogger had never made gnocchi and was delighted to find them already premade and used those in her “recipe.”
I’m sorry, go ahead and make dinner however you choose, but to post a recipe for gnocchi alla Sorrentina without instructions on how to make gnocchi is like sharing a recipe for hamburgers and you tell people to buy premade burgers. What is the point?
I also have seen sauce recipes that make me cringe in horror, when they are entitled “Italian” when they have nothing in common with Italian cuisine from any part of the boot (or Sicily or Sardinia!) So let me tell you about a more authentic way to make gnocchi alla Sorrentina. These are the photos I took with my phone when I was in Italy (they aren’t the best quality, but you can’t get any more authentic!) 🇮🇹
The original recipe is from Sorrento, in southern Italy, about two hours south of where my family is. This is why it’s called “Sorrentina”. Potato gnocchi are the usual suspects in this dish, but non-potato gnocchi can also be used (this is what I made). A simple tomato sauce (without meat), fresh mozzarella, and a little Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese are the final ingredients for this fabulous dish.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina Recipe
(Authentic Italian style)
by Christina Conte (serves 4)
printable recipe cards below
Make the Gnocchi
Follow the instructions in the recipe below, but these are much quicker and easier than making potato gnocchi. Just pour boiling water into flour, mix to a dough and you’re ready to start rolling!
These are definitely much less labor intensive and quicker to make! I was finished in no time and was able to join Gianfranco in picking up the cheese. Watch my gnocchi making IG story clip HERE.
Make the Sauce
You probably saw the clip above showing the sauce in the making, but it’s also super quick and easy and the recipe card follows below.
Cook the Gnocchi
Carefully drop the gnocchi into salted water that is at a rolling boil. I cooked them in two batches so they don’t stick and cook more quickly. Then remove them with a strainer and we’re onto the next step.
Assemble the Ingredients
In a large pot or bowl, add a little sauce to the bottom and begin adding the drained gnocchi. Add more sauce and the rest of the cooked gnocchi. Add the chopped mozzarella and some grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. Gently mix to combine. Add a little of the water from boiling the gnocchi if it seems a little too dry.
Bake the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Put the gnocchi into oven-proof bowls, place on a tray and bake in a 400˚F (200˚C) oven for about 20 minutes. Remove when bubbling and completely heated through. Add one bocconcino of mozzarella to the center of each bowl with a sprig of basil, and serve.
This is perfect for a cold winter’s night, but Italians eat it in the summer, too! There’s never a bad time for gnocchi alla Sorrentina!
And it’s Zia approved, too!
Please let me know if you try this recipe!
- 3 1/2 cups (454 g) flour
- 12 ounces (355 ml) boiling water
- (a little semolina for dusting baking trays)
- See recipe card below
- 8 oz of fresh mozzarella (di bufala if you can find it) chopped into small pieces
- 2 or 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
- 4 bocconcini of fresh mozzarella (optional)
- sprigs of basil (optional)
MAKE THE GNOCCHI:
- Measure the water and put into a kettle or pot to boil. Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the boiling water into the well in the flour.
- Using the handle of a wooden spoon, or a spurtle, if you have one, stir the water into the flour as quickly as possible, mixing as much of the flour into the water as possible while the water is still hot.Continue stirring until the mixture is cool enough to handle, then begin to gently knead by hand until a rough dough is formed. Place onto a floured countertop and continue to knead gently.
- The dough should come together nicely, but it will become dry and hard quickly, so keep it covered with slightly damp cloth as you roll the gnocchi. Cut a slice of dough and begin to roll it into a long sausage shape on a lightly floured counter.
- Once the piece of dough is rolled into a uniform size from end to end, cut 1/2" to 3/4" (pick one size and make them all the same) pieces and no, this is not my best knife (cutting on granite is not recommended)!
- Now you are ready to start making rolling the gnocchi, but before you begin, sprinkle a baking tray lightly with semolina or fine corn meal, or even flour (but semolina works best so they don't stick to the tray). If you don't have the wooden gnocchi tool, use a dinner fork. Begin by holding one piece of dough with your thumb and two fingers, gently push your fingers into the dough, rolling it down the tool or fork until it is a circular shape.
- Place the finished gnocchi on the prepared tray and continue the rolling, cutting and shaping until all the dough has been used.
- Keep the gnocchi covered with a clean kitchen towel until you are ready to cook them.
MAKE THE SAUCE
- See recipe card below.
COOK THE GNOCCHI
- Carefully drop the gnocchi into salted water that is at a rolling boil. I cooked them in two batches so they don't stick and cook more quickly. When they rise to the top, let them cook about 3 or 4 minutes, then remove them with a strainer.
ASSEMBLE THE DISH
- In a large pot or bowl, add a little sauce to the bottom and begin adding the gnocchi. Add more sauce and the rest of the gnocchi when it's finished cooking. Add the chopped mozzarella and some grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. Gently mix to combine. Add a little of the water from boiling the gnocchi if it seems a little too dry.
BAKE THE GNOCCHI ALLA SORRENTINA
- Put the gnocchi into oven-proof bowls, place on a tray and bake in a 400˚F (200˚C) oven for about 20 minutes. Remove when bubbling and completely heated through.
- Add one bocconcino of mozzarella to the center of each bowl with a sprig of basil, and serve.
I use a scraper to lift the gnocchi from the board to the pot.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 280Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 1328mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 11g
This information is not guaranteed to be correct.
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 to 5 cloves fresh garlic (not in a jar, dried, powdered, or frozen) preferably grown in USA/Europe
- small bunch of fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (my family likes to use parsley in sugo)
- 1 (28-32 oz) about 800g carton/jar of whole, chopped tomatoes or puree (like Mutti, or Bionaturae) any tomatoes listed on the Greatest Tomatoes from Europe site will be fantastic or about 1 lb of fresh tomatoes (San Marzano, Roma or cherry tomatoes are great)
- about 1 1/2 level tsp sea salt
- 3 or 4 large leaves of fresh basil, more to add to each plate, if desired
- Pour the oil into a large saute pan (not a deep pot) over medium high heat. Crush the garlic and add it to the oil (if you want a spicy sauce, you can add some hot pepper, fresh or flakes, at this point). Saute the garlic until it just starts to brown, then add the parsley.
- Turn the heat up to high. Now add the tomatoes, and quickly cover with the lid for about 30 seconds, until the squirting subsides. Stir with a wooden spoon and lower the heat a little. It is important that this sauce is cooked at a fast simmer, as it is cooked briefly.
- Add the salt and continue to simmer at a fast pace, and stir often.
- The sauce will thicken quickly, so do not overcook it, and have it become too thick; about 5 to 7 minutes should be sufficient.
- Taste the sauce, if it doesn't taste delicious, it probably just needs a little more salt. Turn off the heat and add the fresh basil (I tear mine into pieces). Also, unless absolutely necessary, do not wash your basil. Wipe it with a damp paper towel instead, so the water doesn't ruin the flavor and aroma.
- Use as desired.
- To enjoy with pasta as soon as the sauce is ready, put a large pot of salted water on the cooktop over high heat and cook the pasta as directed (if you are using egg or a very quick cooking pasta, do this about half-way through these directions).
- Add drained pasta to the sauce (save some pasta water to add back into the pasta in case it's too dry), and enjoy immediately.
- Also, if you've been plating pasta in a bowl, then topping it with sauce, this is American-style. If you want to serve it the way they do in Italy, mix the sauce in, and then plate it. You will 100% taste the difference.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 5 Serving Size: 4
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 135Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 498mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is only an estimate.