Gnocchi alla sorrentina

On Easter holiday we stayed in Sorrento for a couple days. The first evening was quite cold and we were tired and hungry after having traveled the whole day. We had some difficulties finding a place to eat: we didn't want to go a tourist-y place and some of the places were still closed as it was an early evening. After some wandering around the small alleys we found a family-run restaurant in some back-alley which seemed quite sympathetic so decided to go there. I chose gnocchi alla sorrentina; it felt very suitable for the situation as I wanted to eat some local food and also for the cold weather. The food was warming and delicious as expected but the dining room was so cold and we ended up feeling colder still... I had to wear my jacket while eating.

I had a hunch the dish would be quite easy to prepare, and when browsing through a Finnish food magazine caught my eye on this recipe by Luca Platania, an Italian living in Finland and the founder of Pizzarium. It was simple to prepare, the gnocchi were soft but chewy and the taste was very delicious. I want to make it soon again <3

Notes about the recipe:
1) I used De Cecco gnocchi which were delicious, but next time I want to try making them from scratch if I have time.
2) The gnocchi were in a 500 g package (as the recipe suggested 500-700 g); next time I would reduce the amount of tomato sauce if having only 500 g gnocchi). The amount of sauce might have been extravagant in this case also because I baked the dish in too deep a dish; a shallower one next time.

Gnocchi alla sorrentina

500-700 g gnocchi
50-70 g parmesan, grated
125 g mozzarella, cut to desired pieces or sliced
half a bunch of fresh basil 

Tomato sauce:
800 g canned whole tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
half a bunch of fresh basil

Heat up the olive oil in a pan. Add tomatoes with the juice, salt and half of the basil leaves. Let simmer for about half an hour without lid.

Meanwhile heat up oven to 250 C. Cook the gnocchi in ample, salted water until they rise to the surface (about 2 minutes). Drain them and pour into a gratin dish. Add most of the parmesan (save some for finishing the baked dish) and let the cheese coat them. Once the tomatoes have simmered enough, you can break them with a spatula (you could also blend them, but do it before adding the basil. Though, I remember reading that somehow the taste will be better if you break the tomatoes after the simmering so that the seeds will stay inside the tomatoes).

Pour the tomato sauce on the gnocchi, stir together and arrange the mozzarella pieces on top. Cook in oven for 15 minutes or until it's hot and mozzarella has melted. You could also prepare them in individual gratin ramekins, in which case the cooking time can probably be reduced.

Finish the dish with the rest of the basil leaves and grated parmesan.

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