I have been on a bit of a pasta kick recently. With Autumn well truly arrived in Canberra and Winter knocking loudly on the door, warming food has been the order of the day. One of the recipes that seemed to be popping up in my pinterest feed was gnocchi alla sorrentina. I am a fan of gnocchi, in part because of the speed at which it cooks and not that long ago actually made my own with surprising ease – you can read how to do that here.
But I have been feeling very lazy recently when it comes to my cooking so I went with store bought gnocchi this time. The homemade gnocchi does taste better but given this dish has melted cheese, I figured the cheese rather than the gnocchi could be the hero. I based my recipe on this one from Chrisy of Homemade Hoopla. My recipe is a lazy version of her recipe with a hidden extra of anchovies. Not a traditional gnocchi alla sorrentina I know but for me anchovies are like bacon – they make pretty much everything taste better. To make it clear to the purist out there that this is not a genuine gnocchi alla sorrentina I have renamed it baked cheesy tomato gnocchi.
There are three lazy options to cut back on the work required by Chrisy’s version. The first is rather than using tinned chopped tomatoes and popping them in the food processor to make them smoother, you can use passata (tomato sauce for those in the US but not those of us in Australia). I used this method the second time I made the dish after following the recipe exactly the first time and I would go with the passata over the food processor to save on washing up. I don’t think the texture made a huge difference in this dish.
The second lazy option which I haven’t tried is to just buy a marinara sauce. You will see from the recipe below that if you go the passata route you cook it with some garlic and olive oil. I don’t think you would need to do that with the marinara sauce saving one whole pot of cooking.
The third lazy option which isn’t really a lazy option is to have homemade marinara sauce on hand. I did this the third time I made this and it was the best outcome of all the versions I made. I use this recipe from gourmet traveller for salsa al pomodoro. If you make a good sized batch one weekend, it freezes well and is far superior to store bought versions. If you are making the sauce then it is well worth making the meatball recipe that is included with the salsa al pomodoro. This is by far one of the best meatball recipes I have ever made.
It was the gourmet traveller recipe that also got me thinking about anchovies to add a bit of zip to the dish. It adds anchovies to the meatballs to add a bit more complexity to the flavours. I love the saltiness the anchovies added to the gnocchi but if you hate anchovies just leave them out.
If you go the tomato passata route you will use two pots plus a casserole dish and the cooking time is about 30 minutes. If you skip out that step you reduce the cook time to about 10 minutes. Calorie wise this dish actually isn’t too bad. Sure it is not light on the cheese but there aren’t significant amounts of oil or butter. The calories given below are for the option using passata.
- 125g of gnocchi
- 2 tbs parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
- 4-5 anchovie fillets, roughly chopped
- 4 basil leaves, shredded
- 1/3 cup of marinara sauce if you aren't making your own or
- 1/3 of the sauce you made using the salsa al pomodoro recipe or
- 1/4 tsp of minced garlic (equal to a quarter of a clove)
- 1/2 tbs of olive oil
- 100g/ml of passata (tomato puree/tomato sauce if you are in the US)
- Put oven on to 200C (about 400F)
- Heat the olive oil on a medium heat.
- Add the garlic and fry the garlic until golden.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and anchovies, bring to the boil then turn down to simmer for at least 15 minutes. If you have time to simmer for longer then I would add in a bit more of the three ingredients but keep in proportion. The salsa al pomodoro recipe I love simmers for a good 45 minutes to an hour.
- While the sauce is simmering, put a pan of water on the stove and bring to the boil.
- Toss in the gnocchi and cook until done - you will know they are done as they fill float to the top. This should take about 5 minutes if that.
- Once cooked, pop the gnocchi in a small oven proof dish
- Add the sauce you are using to the oven proof dish - either marinara, salsa al pomodoro or the passata you have cooked with the garlic, olive oil and anchovies.
- If you haven't added the anchovies already then pop them in the oven dish now along with half the parmesan cheese and mix everything together.
- Top with the mozzarella cheese and the rest of the parmesan.
- Put in the oven and bake from about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted - check the sauce is hot as well.
- Remove from oven and garnish with the basil.