Vegan Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

"If gnocchi bathed in a rich tomato sauce and melted mozzarella makes your mouth water, this is the dish for you. Alla Sorrentina means in the style of Sorrento, a lively town on the coast [of Italy]. There are a few elements to this dish, so you may wish to make the sauce ahead of time. To replace the traditional cheese, we create a gooey sauce that mimics melted mozzarella. However, if you have vegan mozzarella on hand slice it into thick chunks and stir through the cooked gnocchi before baking." ~ from Nadia's upcoming new cookbook A Vegan Summer in Southern Italy.

SERVES 4 | Total time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

Gnocchi

  • 1 kg starchy potatoes
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 1/2 -2 cups (200g) plain flour

Tomato sugo

  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 450g tomato passata
  • few basil leaves
  • 1/2 tspn salt

Mozzarella sauce

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 Tbs tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil, or neutral flavoured oil
  • 3 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes or vegan parmesan
  • 1/2 tspn salt

METHOD

Gnocchi

  1. Peel and halve the potatoes. Cook in a large pot of boiling water for 20-30 minutes or until soft. You can test this by piercing one with a knife; if the knife slides through without any resistance, the potatoes are ready. Drain and cool slightly.
  2. Push the potatoes through a potato ricer into a large bowl or onto a floured bench top. Sprinkle over the salt. Sift the flour over the potatoes, starting with 1 cup at a time. Thoroughly combine the flour and potatoes, scrunching it together with your hands and forming into a dough. If the dough is too sticky add more flour until you achieve a soft dough that doesn’t stick to your hands.
  3. Turn the dough onto a floured bench and roll into a large log shape. Divide into 8-10 pieces. Sprinkle with flour as you go. If your dough becomes too sticky add more flour. Flour is your friend here.
  4. Roll each piece into a long rope. Then cut into 2-3cm small pieces. You can leave the pieces as they are or shape into balls, roll down a wooden gnocchi board, or use a fork to create ridges. Place pieces onto a tray lined with a fresh towel until you are ready to cook them.

Tomato sugo

  1. Heat oil in a medium pan and add the garlic. Lower the heat and cook garlic for approximately 1 minute, being careful not to burn. Pour in the passata, basil and salt. Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes. If you have time you may like to simmer for up to 1 hour, as the flavour improves the longer you cook the sauce.

Mozzarella sauce

  1. In a medium pot over medium to high heat, pour in the soy milk and immediately whisk in the tapioca starch until dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients and stir briskly to combine. Stir frequently until the sauce becomes thick. When the sauce begins to turn stringy and thick, it is ready.
  2. Preheat a fan-forced oven to 180C/356F.
  3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the gnocchi in batches. When the gnocchi float to the surface, carefully remove and drain. Transfer gnocchi to the tomato sugo and stir to coat.
  4. Pour the gnocchi into a large baking or casserole dish. Dollop the mozzarella sauce on top of the gnocchi then stir through gently, distributing the cheese sauce well.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce begins to bubble and turn golden. If you would like a golden-brown crispy topping, complete cooking under a hot grill for 5 minutes before serving.

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Guest Blogger Nadia – The Vegan Italian Kitchen

Nadia is a cookbook author, recipe creator, presenter and vegan Italian expert. She has been creating vegan recipes since 2001 and loves to share her passion for recreating Italian classics through her blog The Vegan Italian Kitchen and her recent cookbook Discovering Vegan Italian. See all recipes by Nadia

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