Gnocchi al Pomodoro is a fun and pillowy gnocchi on a bed of tomato sauce. Topped with crispy cured ham, shaved parmesan and arugula to bring a nice crunch. A mouthful of flavours and textures!
This Gnocchi al Pomodoro recipe is so easy, fast and too good tasting for the time and preparation it needs. It’s not a traditional “Italian” dish, per se but a personal experiment. It’s a dish filled with textures, in one bite you’ll get a smooth gnocchi, tangy tomato sauce and a crunchy ham or fresh arugula. A Romantic dish, with all those textures and colours going, perfect for Valentine’s day.
Is 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 out this recipe from an Italian guy (here) which explains from a to z.
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 on a plate. Crispy cured ham; is my favourite 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 enhances it. It somehow forces the residual water, and some extra fat out and makes 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 needs a touch of crunch to make it exciting, don’t you think? The arugula has a fresh crunch, contrasting colour and the crispy cured ham brings the extra salt and crispiness. The parmesan, bring the umami flavour. 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.)
- arugula (to taste)
- parmesan (to taste)
- 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 gnocchi over the tomato sauce, break a few crisp cured ham on top, arugula and shave a few parmesan pieces with the peeler.