Gnocchi tossed in a creamy Parmesan sauce with lots of fresh basil, gooey cubes of mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and toasty pine nuts.
Totally inspired by the much-loved Caprese salad.
The sauce is seriously sinful and so simple it’s nearly criminal with half & half, Parmesan cheese and basil plus some of the starchy water the gnocchi was cooked in to help thicken it.
The mozzarella is tossed in at the end to turn soft and gooey without melting all the way so you get gobby bites of warm mozzarella.
The tomatoes give the dish a much-needed acidic pop that cuts straight through all the richness. They’re added at the end like a garnish.
You can always toss them into the sauce if you’d prefer them warm. The finishing touch comes from a spattering of golden crunchy pine nuts. Altogether delicious.
You know what I love about gnocchi? Fast, fast, fast. Once the water starts to boil they only take about 3 to 4 minutes to cook. You’ll know when they’re done when they float to the top and puff up like clouds.
The type I buy are in the cold case next to the fresh pasta. I prefer them over frozen and the shelf-stable ones in the dry pasta aisle.
- 1 pound gnocchi (tri-colored, if you can find them)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
- ¾ cup half & half or light heavy cream
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for top
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more garnish
- coarse salt and fresh black pepper
- ¾ cup cubed (3/4-inch) mozzarella
- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half (I used a mix of reds and yellow)
- extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
- Cook the gnocchi according to package directions in plenty of salted water. Before draining set aside ½ cup of the starchy water.
- In a large cast iron frying pan or skillet over medium heat toast the pine nuts until lightly golden. Remove and set aside.
- Add the drained gnocchi to the same pan along with the half & half, starchy water, Parmesan, basil and a dash or two each of salt and pepper. Stir over medium-low heat until thickened 3 - 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the mozzarella.
- Arrange the tomatoes over top, sprinkle with more Parmesan, a few basil leaves and the pine nuts.
- Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.