Also known as gnocchi al forno, this these cheesy baked potato dumplings are the ultimate Italian comfort food! You don't have to work hard for comfort, either: Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is easy to make and ready in a snap!
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Table of contents
- Also known as gnocchi al forno, this these cheesy baked potato dumplings are the ultimate Italian comfort food! You don't have to work hard for comfort, either: Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is easy to make and ready in a snap!
- What is gnocchi sorrentina?
- Why you'll love this baked gnocchi recipe:
- Save this gnocchi Sorrento recipe for later on Pinterest:
- Choosing canned tomatoes:
- Store-bought vs. homemade gnocchi:
- How to make gnocchi alla sorrentina:
- How to properly salt the pasta water:
- Additional recipe pro-tips:
- Can you prepare this gnocchi sorrentina recipe in advance?
- Storage and freezing directions:
- Tools needed to make this recipe:
- More Italian inspired recipes:
Get ready for a treat, friends, because this is a winner dish!
No matter the occasion or time of year, Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is always a hit! Tender and light gnocchi bake up in a bright tomato sauce and are studded with creamy melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Oh, and don't forget that sprinkling of fresh basil! It's a simply delicious combination that you won't be able to make just once!
Enough of all this yammering on, though. Let's get cooking!
What is gnocchi sorrentina?
Gnocchi sorrentina (also known as "gnocchi al forno," or baked gnocchi), is a dish that originates from Sorrento, Italy. A beautiful coastal town situated on the bay of Naples, this town is a place that is certainly at the top of Italian towns to visit!
Gnocchi sorrentina is characterized by the flavor combination of tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese. In Italy, they often use San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala (buffalo milk mozzarella cheese). Since mozzarella di bufala can be hard to find here in the States, we will substitute fresh cow's milk mozzarella in its place.
Why you'll love this baked gnocchi recipe:
- Comforting - had a rough day? Been outside a lot in the cold? This gnocchi with red sauce will warm and comfort from the inside out.
- Cheesy - with both mozzarella and parmesan cheese, this baked gnocchi with mozzarella definitely satisfies on the savory and cheesy front.
- Authentic - with a short ingredient list, we let the flavors of the fresh ingredients shine, just like they do in Italy.
- Simple - we aren't over complicating things with this recipe. The steps are easy and straight forward and there are no extra seasonings, ingredients, or steps. Making this dish super satisfying without any extra work.
- Extra virgin olive oil - we will use this olive for sauteing, so go for a decent quality (but not artisanal or high quality). One of my favorite olive oil blends is Costco's Kirkland Signature organic olive oil. It can't be beat for the price for quality!
- Garlic cloves - minced finely.
- Canned tomatoes - the better quality and flavor you can find the better (see my notes below). These tomatoes are a huge factor in the flavor of the final dish so you'll want the best quality you can find and afford. Look for San Marzano or Roma plum tomatoes.
- Potato gnocchi - though I'll offer directions for using homemade gnocchi (below), pre-made gnocchi is more than fine for this recipe. I love and recommend DeCecco, Bella Terra, or Trader Joe's gnocchi.
- Fresh mozzarella - or the soft mozzarella cheese that has more moisture and is stored in the brine.
- Shaved parmesan cheese - an Italian hard cheese blend (often made with Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheeses) also works as a substitute.
- Fresh basil leaves - fresh leaves really are so much better than dried for this recipe, so grab a bunch when going through the produce aisle!
- Optional: high quality extra virgin olive oil - all we need is a drizzle to garnish before serving. An Italian blended oil is best, but anything with a peppery and/or fruity flavor is perfect to accent the flavors of this dish.
Save this gnocchi Sorrento recipe for later on Pinterest:
Choosing canned tomatoes:
As I noted above, the choosing good quality tomatoes are a big part of the success of this recipe. And, unfortunately, not all canned tomatoes are created equal.
You may have tasted the differences in canned tomatoes and wondered why some dishes made with canned tomatoes taste different from others that are also made with them. This article from Wire Cutter that reviews different canned tomato brands really goes into the different flavor profiles available.
You'll see in the Wire Cutter article, that though not always do more expensive canned tomato grocery store price tags mean better tomatoes, but for the highest price tag artisanal brands of tomatoes, the prices do often translate to better flavor.
All of this to say, that I splurged on a 6 pack of the Bianco Di Napoli tomatoes and was blown away with the flavor. Yes, they certainly are not cheap, and no I won't use them in just any recipe calling for tomatoes, but for tomato forward Italian recipes like this one, I will definitely be using this brand from now on.
Note: for the ingredient shot above, my photography team was not able to source the Bianco Di Napoli tomatoes, but they still loved the flavor.
Store-bought vs. homemade gnocchi:
As much as I'd love to spend a few days learning and refining the art of making gnocchi, I just haven't had the time just yet. I know that many of you, like me (believe it or not), are often short on time when it comes to dinner time.
So, I created this recipe with store-bought gnocchi in mind. Just cook the gnocchi according to the package directions in heavily salted water and use the gnocchi as directed in the recipe.
You can also make this recipe with fresh gnocchi. Just follow this recipe and boil the gnocchi in heavily salted water just until the gnocchi rises to the surface of the water. Then, continue with the recipe as directed.
How to make gnocchi alla sorrentina:
For the complete recipe and measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius).
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is golden and fragrant.
- Add the canned tomatoes and salt and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently and crushing the tomatoes as you cook, or until the tomatoes are a darker red and the sauce has reduced a bit.
- Cook the gnocchi according to package directions in a pot of heavily salted water.
- Strain the gnocchi and stir into the tomato sauce. Add half of the mozzarella cheese to the gnocchi and gently stir until the gnocchi and mozzarella are covered in the sauce.
- Sprinkle the gnocchi with the remaining mozzarella and shaved parmesan cheese.
- Bake the gnocchi in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Switch the oven to the high broiler setting and broil the dish for 2-4 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
- Sprinkle the baked gnocchi with fresh basil, drizzle with high quality olive oil (if using), and serve hot!
How to properly salt the pasta water:
Sufficiently salting the pasta water can make the world of a difference in the flavor of your gnocchi.
For best results, season the pasta water with at least 2 tablespoons of sea salt for every 1 gallon of water boiled. There is no risk in adding a bit more salt than this, either. At the pasta making class we took in Florence this year, our chef instructor added around half a cup of salt for 2 gallons of water!
The pasta only absorbs a fraction of the salt in the water anyways, but is essential in bringing out the flavor of the pasta.
Additional recipe pro-tips:
- Don't burn the garlic. Sauté the garlic until it is just golden and fragrant, any longer and it will burn and get bitter. Not a great flavor!
- Keep an eye on the dish while broiling to see when it's reached your desired amount of browning. If you prefer the cheese more golden and bubbly, you can broil it longer (up to 4-5 minutes). If you prefer it less golden, all you need is a few minutes under the broiler.
Can you prepare this gnocchi sorrentina recipe in advance?
Yes, you can prepare this dish up to 2 days in advance. Here's how:
- Make the sauce and boil the pasta (as directed in the recipe).
- Stir the pasta, half of the mozzarella cheese, and sauce together in the large oven-safe pan.
- Sprinkle the cheeses on the gnocchi.
- Cover the pan of gnocchi with aluminum foil and store refrigerated for up to 48 hours.
- Bring the pan of gnocchi to room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Bake the gnocchi for 10-13 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Continue with the rest of the recipe as directed!
Storage and freezing directions:
- Refrigerating: leftovers keep covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: remaining gnocchi also can be frozen in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months.
- Defrosting:defrost the baked gnocchi entirely in the refrigerator for 16-24 hours, or until thawed completely before reheating in the microwave or oven.
Tools needed to make this recipe:
- Cutting board
- Chef knife
- Measuring spoons
- 12-inch oven proof skillet or cast iron skillet
- Stock pot or Dutch oven
- Slotted heat-safe spoon
- Heat-safe spatula
More Italian inspired recipes:
- Pesto Gnocchi
- Italian Sausage and Peppers Pasta
- Bucatini Pomodoro
- Garlic Bread in the Air Fryer
- Instant Pot Meatballs
- Turkey Bolognese Sauce
- No Boil Pasta Bake with Turkey
If you made and liked this recipe, don't forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it went for you in the comments! It always makes my day to hear from you!