Gnocchi with Tomato Cream Sauce & Fresh Mozzarella

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced

26 ounces strained tomatoes, preferably Pomì brand

1/3 cup heavy cream

3 to 4 large sprigs basil, plus chiffonaded leaves for serving

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 recipe Potato Gnocchi

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, drained and diced

Grated Parmegiano-Reggiano, for serving

 

Heat a large, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, cream, and basil sprigs. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 16 to 18 minutes, or until thickened and saucy. 

 

Cook the gnocchi in 2 or 3 batches in a large pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they float to the surface of the water. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and discard the basil sprigs. When the gnocchi float to the surface of the water, using a wire skimmer, transfer them from the pot to the sauce and gently toss to combine. Remove from the heat, let cool for a few minutes, and stir in the mozzarella. Arrange on individual plates, top with plenty of Parmegiano and basil, and serve immediately.

 

Serves 4 as a main course. Fresh mozzarella balls come in a variety of sizes, and if you want a shortcut, look for pearlini, which are so small they don’t even need to be diced. Be sure to let the gnocchi cool a bit before adding the mozzarella, or it will melt into a gooey mess. It also helps if the mozzarella is cold when it goes in. For a quick and easy variation which happens to be a weeknight favorite at my house, serve this sauce with penne rigate instead of gnocchi. And if you like that idea, you may like Penne with Tomato-Pepper Sauce & Fresh Mozzarella. This vegetarian dish has been known to satisfy meat eaters.

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