Gnocchi al Pomodoro is a soft pillowy gnocchi laying on a bed of tomato sauce, topped with crispy cured ham, shaved parmesan and crunchy arugula to bring a nice crunch. A mouthful of flavours and textures!
This Gnocchi al Pomodoro recipe is so easy, fast and frankly too good tasting for the time and preparation it needs. It’s not a traditional “Italian” dish, it’s a personal experiment that turned out to be one of my favorite way to enjoy those little potato dumplings. It’s a dish filled with flavours and textures, in one bite you’ll get a smooth gnocchi, it’s coating of tangy tomato sauce and a crunchy factor whether it’s the salty crispy ham or the fresh arugula. A dream dish, plus with all those textures and colors going, a perfect romantic dish for Valentines day.
Are Gnocchi pasta?
Let’s talk gnocchi for a sec… They look like pasta and come with a sauce like pasta but they are not per se the usual semolina pasta… they are potato dumplings. First of all, I chose pre-made gnocchis from the market, if you want to make your own check this recipe from an Italian guy (here) which explain from a to z about the gnocchis world.
Another big difference is the way you cook the gnocchis, you should not add any salt to the boiling water like with pasta. The starch from the potato would come out and make them sticky, we don’t want that, we want our gnocchis fluffy not sticky. Gnocchi should be dropped in the boiling water and then as soon as they float up, pick them up with a slotted spoon. This doesn’t take long, about 3 minutes. There is no “al dente” rule when we talk gnocchis, just a drop and pick up rule.
A true Italian would always say: the simpler the better. But this is not my philosophy, I like having textures to a plate. Crispy cured ham; is my favorite addition to a soft meal! I’ve learned this trick in culinary school and no it’s not destroying the delicious ham already processed, it just enhancing it and changing its texture, that’s all. It somehow forces the residual water out, some extra fat out and make the ham ultra salty and crisp. It’s not cooking long enough to deteriorate anything. It’s mainly a texture thing.
For example this smooth gnocchi on a smooth tomato sauce need a touch of crunch to make it exciting, don’t you think? The arugula has a fresh crunch, contrasting color and the crispy cured ham brings the extra salt and crisp. The parmesan, bring the umami flavor. A perfect mix of textures and flavours!
Gnocchi al Pomodoro with extra crunch
- 500 g gnocchi
- 400 g Pomodoro sauce
- 70 g cured ham (proscuitto, serrano, etc.)
- parmesan (shaved)
- Start by making the crisp cured ham; add them on a baking sheet at 180°C (350F) for about 3-4 minutes or until crisp.
- Warm up the sauce, add to plates.
- Add the gnocchi in a big pot of boiling water (unsalted) and pick them up with a slotted spoon once they float.
- Add the gnocchis over the tomato sauce, break a few crisp cured ham on top, arugula and shave a few parmesan pieces with the peeler.