Cooking with Nathan : Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

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It’s Friday night and we’ve been for a Negroni in the campo. Dinner, therefore, needs to be something reasonably easy to prepare. The weather is getting warm now, but it’s not too hot for the classic Gnocchi alla Sorrentina.

There is, however, a problem. The recipe I have calls for a ball of fiordilatte. Which I do not have. And 300ml of tomato passata. Which, again, I do not have.

Now, given that the two main ingredients of this dish are (a) cheese and (b) tomato, you might imagine that this was a little discouraging.

I do, however, have a ball of mozzarella which I think should do well enough. And I have a big bag of tomatoes. I could make a basic fresh tomato sauce but – given that dinner has already become a little more complicated than it might have been – I figure I may as well do something a bit more interesting.

So here’s a recipe for Gnocchi alla Sorrentina with a roasted tomato sauce.

Ingredients (for 2)

300-350g gnocchi (you could make your own, but I had a packet to hand)
300g tomatoes (I used datterini because that’s what I had)
1 medium-large mozzarella
6 decent-sized garlic cloves
20g or so of grated parmesan
Fresh basil leaves
Salt

Method

One of my lockdown projects has been a complete trawl through the entire Hawkwind studio catalogue, from 1969 – 2020. I’m currently on 2012’s Onward, and so that’s what I cooked to. I think it worked, but I was asked to use headphones.

Normally at this point, I’d prepare a spritz for us both. However we’ve just had a Negroni. I fear Bad Things Happening if a spritz is added to the mix. We settle for a glass of prosecco instead.

So here we go :-

1) Heat the oven up to 220C.

2) Put the tomatoes in an ovenproof dish, along with a good slug of good olive oil. Peel six good-sized garlic cloves, chuck them in and give them all a good mix together. Put the dish in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the tomato skins have blackened nicely.

3) There’s not much you can do in the meantime, but you can at least measure out your gnocchi, tear some basil leaves, grate the parmesan and get the water boiling.

4) Now would be a good point at which to drink the prosecco.

5) When your tomatoes are done, take a blender to them and reduce them to a sauce. It might look a little gloopy, but that’s okay. Add salt to taste.

6) Put your gnocchi on to a nice, gentle simmer for about three minutes (or however long it takes them to rise to the surface).

7) Toss the gnocchi in the roasted tomato sauce in an ovenproof dish.

8) Tear the mozzarella into pieces and scatter on the top. Then scatter the parmesan over the whole lot.

9) Put the dish back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

10) When everything’s melted nicely, scatter some torn basil over the top, and serve directly from the dish.

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Be warned : this is going to be absolutely piping hot. You are also going to get tomato sauce and mozzarella strings everywhere, but that’s okay. It’s that sort of dish.

And as you’ve been good and fought off the spritz temptation, you could treat yourself to a glass of red wine with it as well.

Buon appetito!

 

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