A Taste of Italy: Cooking My Favorite Italian Pasta Dish - Gnocchi alla Sorrentina

Jun 3, 2016 5:30:00 PM / by Stephanie Sadler

CAPAStudyAbroad_Florence_Emily_Kearns_Column_Profile.jpgWords by Emily Kearns, a CAPA Florence study abroad alumna. Emily will be writing a column called "Remembering Florence" on CAPA World the first Friday of every month.

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Aside from the beautiful views, landmarks, churches, and other historic sites in Italy, there’s no denying that one of the country’s most prized attributes is its delicious culinary scene. During my semester in Florence, I made sure to take advantage of that by trying out some classic Italian dishes and seeing for myself how amazing this country’s cuisine really is.

In Florence, one of my absolute favorite dishes that I tasted (a few too many times to count) is “gnocchi alla sorrentina.” I kid you not, almost every single time my roommates and I dined at Il Pizzaiuolo, our favorite restaurant, this is what we ordered. This mouthwatering, but very simple, dish consists of a few classic Italian ingredients: gnocchi, tomato sauce, basil and mozzarella cheese. A few days ago, when I was craving that melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi, my mom and I decided to put our culinary skills to the test and see if we could tackle this dish ourselves.

Rather than sticking to store-bought gnocchi, we decided to make our own to make the dish in a more traditional way. ( I give my mom the credit for making the actual gnocchi :) )

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The recipe for the gnocchi dough is fairly simple, but actually shaping them is where it gets a little tough — I’m still not sure how the Italians have perfected that! I made the tomato sauce with some crushed tomatoes, onions, basil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oregano.

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Once the gnocchi were boiled and the sauce was done simmering, it was time to actually put the dish together. We put a layer of gnocchi at the bottom of the pan, then poured some of the sauce and mixed it all together with a bit of Parmesan cheese. Afterwards, we added a layer of mozzarella, then more gnocchi, sauce, and Parmesan. We topped it off with some of my mom’s homemade mozzarella and popped it in the oven! The final product came out looking like this:

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Lastly came the fun part — actually eating it! It’s safe to say that none of this meal went to waste. My parents, brothers, and I all devoured our plates, and whatever wasn’t eaten at dinner was consumed the following day for lunch.

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While it may not have tasted exactly like it does in Italy, I can say confidently that it was pretty darn close to it. We did a good job, especially considering the resources we have available compared to those in an authentic Italian restaurant. Spending quality time with my mom, while giving her and the rest of my family a taste (literally) of what I experienced in Italy, was priceless. It’s always nice to have things like this that take me back to my time in Florence, and I hope that we can soon master this dish, along with some of my other favorites!

Thanks Emily!

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Topics: Florence, Italy, Food Abroad, Life After Study Abroad