Gnocchi alla sorrentina is a comforting dish featuring delicate potato gnocchi baked in a casserole with a simple tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella. Hailing from Sorrento, it's an Italian classic that's easy and versatile enough to accommodate both fresh pasta and store-bought varieties.
This gnocchi alla sorrentina recipe is an ode to my travels along the Amalfi coast, stopping by several eateries in Sorrento enjoying this cozy dish. You start by cooking gnocchi in boiling water until tender, then toss the pillowy, light dumplings in a delicious tomato sauce made from a mixture of canned tomatoes and fresh tomatoes.
Top the dish with little globs of mozzarella, and bake! In the oven, the sauce thickens, the cheese melts and oozes, and the house smells like heaven. Are you with me yet?
- The dish originated in the Campania region of Southern Italy, namely Sorrento. The cooks combined the classic Mediterranean flavors of mozzarella and tomato, then baked the Sorrento-style gnocchi in a terracotta pan.
- There are many variations of the dish! Some chefs and home cooks use 100% canned tomatoes, while others use 100% cherry tomatoes. Some use buffalo mozzarella, and others use cow's milk.
- Like many Italian recipes, this dish is best kept simple, using fresh, high-quality ingredients.
I'll reiterate once more that good quality, fresh ingredients can *really* elevate this recipe! I've provided a number of suggestions below.
Potato Gnocchi: You can use my homemade potato gnocchi recipe or a store-bought variety here! When I'm feeling adventurous, I like to treat this dish as a weekend project, making the gnocchi and tomato sauce from scratch.
On busy weeknights, I'll go for a store-bought version. The difference? Store-bought versions taste a bit gummier than homemade -- but they're still delicious in this recipe. I recommend Mamma Emma (can be found at Eataly) or DeCecco (can be found in most grocery stores) brands.
Tomatoes: I call for a combination of canned whole-peeled tomatoes (high-quality San Marzano tomatoes or Bianco diNapoli are great) and fresh cherry tomatoes, for a mix of tangy and sweet flavors.
Mozzarella: I prefer a milky, fresh mozzarella cheese, like fior di latte (cow's milk) or mozzarella di bufala (buffalo milk), so look for a nice ball of cheese in liquid when grocery shopping.
Parmesan Cheese/Parmigiano Reggiano: The salty garnish of parm helps balance the milky mozzarella and the tangy tomato flavors. You can also sub in pecorino romano cheese.
For a full list of ingredients and quantities, refer to the recipe card.
How to Make Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Step 1 - In a small dutch oven or large skillet, heat oil. With a wooden spoon, saute the sliced garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, and anchovy until aromatic.
Step 2 - Add the cherry tomatoes and saute until they just begin to wrinkle.
Step 3 - Stir in the canned tomatoes and simmer over medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes until the flavors come together.
Step 4 - Meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a large pot of salted water until tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the tomato sauce, and stir to combine.
Step 5 - Transfer the mixture to a baking dish. Tear the mozzarella into bite-sized pieces and stir half of it into the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and bake until the sauce has thickened and the cheese has fully melted. Cool for a few minutes to allow the sauce to solidify slightly, then garnish with fresh basil and serve.
Difference sauces and brands of gnocchi (or homemade gnocchi) can lead to a different consistency with the baked sauce. The sauce shouldn't feel too dry before going into the oven, as it will continue to thicken and dry out after baking. If it does feel dry, you can add a bit of water (or the juices from the can of tomatoes) to loosen it up.
For best results, remove the baking dish from the oven while the sauce is still a bit liquidy and the gnocchi are still soft and tender, as everything will continue to firm up once cooled down.
Storage and Make-Ahead Instructions
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 - 3 days. You can quickly reheat individual portions in the microwave, or reheat larger portions in an oven safe dish in the oven. Bake, covered with foil, at 350°F/177°C for 5 - 10 minutes until warmed through.
Gnocchi alla sorrentina translates to gnocchi "of Sorrentina", meaning gnocchi originating from (and in the style of) the area of Sorrento.
Yes, you can. The biggest difference between store-bought and homemade gnocchi is that the store-bought versions tend to be a little gummier.
I find they're at their best when they're crisped up slightly in a pan. Instead of boiling the gnocchi, I recommend sauteing them with a splash of water and a tablespoon or two of oil. Once the water evaporates, let them crisp up in the pan until lightly golden-brown. Then, toss to combine with the sauce and cheese, and bake in the oven.
Gnocchi alla sorrentina is typically vegetarian, though I do add an anchovy filet to the sauce for a bit more flavor. You can easily omit this if you are vegetarian, though!
For even more cozy recipes, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter.Happy eating! Love, Karishma
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 filet anchovy, packed in oil | drained
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 8 ounces fresh cherry tomatoes
- 14 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes, hand-crushed
- 12 ounces potato gnocchi, homemade or store-bought*
- 4 ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella, torn into bite-sized pieces
- Handful of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, or pecorino romano cheese
- 4 sprigs fresh basil, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425℉ / 218℃.In a medium dutch oven or a large skillet, add oil and melt butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, anchovy, and red chili flakes, and saute until aromatic, about 1 - 2 minutes.2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 filet anchovy, ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Stir in the cherry tomatoes, and saute until they just begin to wrinkle, about 3 - 5 minutes.8 ounces fresh cherry tomatoes
- Add the canned tomatoes and season with salt. Simmer for 10 - 12 minutes until the cherry tomatoes burst and the sauce has thickened slightly. Crush any remaining whole tomatoes with the back of a spoon.14 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes, Salt
- For homemade gnocchi: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the gnocchi and cook until they float to the top. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the dumplings to the dutch oven and toss to combine with the sauce. For store-bought gnocchi: I find store-bought gnocchi are at their best when they're crisped up slightly in a pan. Instead of boiling them, I recommend sauteing them with a tablespoon or two of oil over medium heat. Allow them to crisp up in the pan until lightly golden-brown. Then, toss to combine with the sauce.Note: The sauce-to-gnocchi ratio can vary depending on the exact ingredients you use. The gnocchi shouldn't be *drowning* in sauce, but they should look a little more saucy than you'd like (since the sauce will thicken in the oven). If it appears to dry, feel free to add a bit more canned tomato juice or water.12 ounces potato gnocchi
- Season with salt to taste. Transfer half of the saucy gnocchi mixture to an oven-safe casserole dish. Top with half of the mozzarella, then top with the remaining gnocchi mixture, followed by the remaining mozzarella. Finally, sprinkle on the parmigiano-reggiano cheese.4 ounces fresh whole-milk mozzarella, Handful of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- Bake in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly, and the cheese is bubbly, fully melted, and slightly golden-brown. Remove from the baking dish from the oven and cool for a few minutes to allow the sauce to set. Garnish with basil, and serve.4 sprigs fresh basil