For the "Alla Sorrentina" Sauce
Peal and remove seeds from the tomatoes. You can watch how to do this in this video:
Over medium-heat, heat the olive oil and then sweat the garlic cloves (pealed). Add the diced to tomatoes, and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves, and proceed to process the tomatoes using a food processor or an immersion blender.
Put back over medium-heat and cook for about 30 minutes. You are looking for sauce consistency, so if after 30 minutes you notice it is still too liquid cook some more. If on contrary it has become too thick, you can always add some water.
Add the basil leaves after 20 minutes.
Season to taste and reserve covered with aluminum foil.
Note bout the garlic: This is my preferred way. If you love garlic, you can always leave it in, and blend it together with the tomatoes. Or chop it really small at the beginning; instead of sweating the whole clove, you’d be sweating the chopped garlic (don’t let it burn, as it doesn’t taste good!).
If you don’t have red, beautiful tomatoes, you can add some tomato paste for the color. If you do this, you should add it in at the start, before pouring the tomatoes in, and let it cook for several minutes so that you get rid of the acidity.
The sauce can be frozen for up to 2 months. So while you are at it, make a big batch, which you can later use for other purposes, as it is a basic tomato sauce (ex. Bolognese Sauce or pizza are some of the things that come to mind!).
Remove the basil leaves before assembling the gnocchi (this way, it will infuse the sauce, but it won't change its color)
Finally, I almost always (except today!) add 1 onion to this sauce. It gives a little sweet taste to balance out the acidity of the tomato. If you do so, sweat the finely chopped onions (ciselé) in with the garlic, before you add the tomato paste and the tomatoes.
Cook the potatoes until tender. There are many ways to cook your potatoes for making gnocchi. Personally I prefer baking them in the oven, covered, with the skin. Why? It prevents to add even more water to the potatoes (they have a high content of water already! So if you have the opportunity to choose amongst different types of potatoes go for the one that has less water content, or in other words a higher content of starch. For example, the Russets).
Once they are cooked, empty the potato using a spoon and mash the pulp using a food mill or a potato masher. It is very important that the potatoes remain warm during the whole process! It will prevent obtaining a chewy gnocchi. You can use gloves if necessary!)
Make a fountain with the flour, the mashed potatoes, the parmesan, salt and pepper. Using the tip of your fingers mix all of the ingredients together. Make a whole in the middle and incorporate the egg. Using your fingers continue to knead the dough until you obtain a ball that’s dry to touch.
*Don’t panic if the dough is sticky at the beginning. Try to avoid adding more flour even though you think it is absolutely necessary. You will be already adding more flour when rolling out the gnocchi!
Cut a small piece out of the big ball and roll it out in a cylinder shape, or log shape thin and long; cut small pieces of about 1 cm - 1.5 cm (really it’s up to you, and how big you want your gnocchi to be. I prefer mine on the small side of the size spectrum!). Repeat the operation until you have no more dough left!
When rolling out the gnocchi, make sure to flour your working surface so that your dough doesn’t stick, that you are able to work properly, and that your gnocchi maintain the shape.
Finally, if you want to, using a fork, shape your gnocchi toward a rounder shape. I confess, I skipped this part, and they turned out perfect anyway. But, in all honesty, you are supposed to do this, because the small hole you end up with at the back of the gnocchi, this is where sauce finds its happy place. Or so they say in Italy.
For the finishing touches :)
Pre-heat the oven at 180 C.
In a pot, heat up your tomato sauce.
Cook the gnocchi in a big pot with simmering (this is key!! Do not cook your gnocchi in high heated boiling water. A simple simmer is enough), salted water. When they mount to surface, and float, that’s when, using a skimmer, you transfer them to the pot that has the tomato sauce in it. Repeat the operation until you have no more gnocchi left.
In an oven baking dish, pour half the gnocchi drenched in tomato sauce. Cover with mozzarella. Cover with the rest of the gnocchi, and cover one more time with the rest of the mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven (the top part would be perfect, because we are looking for the browning of the mozzarella, since the gnocchi are cooked already, and also hot!), until the top is golden brown.
When serving each individual plate, add some basil leaves for décor!
To be better organized, ideally, you should first cook your potatoes since it will probably take a while.
While they are cooking, prepare your sauce. And while the sauce is cooking, make your gnocchi.
Before rolling out the gnocchi, finish your sauce. Then you are ready to cook your gnocchi and almost ready to eat them too!