RECIPE: Gnocchi Positano with Tomato Passata in a Vodka Sauce

When we were in Italy a couple of years ago we took our daughter, so she could experience another country and especially experience it with her native Grandparents. Out of the many things that left an impression on her, the food was top of the list. To this day, she talks about a bowl of gnocchi she had at a wonderful outdoor restaurant in Positano. I have tried since, to match this dish, and with no luck...except recently. I made a tomato passata, which is a super smooth tomato "sauce" and it made all the difference. My daughter said I was close but remembers some melty cheese mixed in, suggesting the dish was much cheesier. So I am not sure if next time, I mix in some mozzarella or fresh mozzarella...or even mascarpone and bake it? But that is for another post. On its own, this dish was delicious and really close to the Positano dish. Smooth and creamy, sweet and delicious. The approach to making the passata here was a perfect way to make a small amount for dinner. I will also be posting this month how to make a large batch for using garden tomatoes and canning it for the winter. So stay tuned to the youtube channel this month!

To get you in the mood, I'm sharing a couple shots of Positano taken right after lunch. SO beautiful.

Le Sigh.

Gnocchi Positano with Tomato Passata in a Vodka Sauce


vodka sauce 

1/3rd  a cup of extra virgin olive oil 
5 close garlic, gently crushed carefully with the flat of a knife 
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes 
1/2 a teaspoon of salt 
4 leaves of fresh basil 
2 cups to 3 cups of Italian tomato passata  *see note below 
1/8th  cup of vodka 
1/4 cup of heavy cream 
1 tablespoon of butter 

1 lb, gnocchi

1/2 a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish 
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley for garnish 

In a large heavy-bottomed deep saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the smashed garlic, red pepper flakes, basil leaves and the salt to the oil and toss until the garlic is starting to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and whisk. Bring to a boil and keep it on a high simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes. Next, add the vodka, reduce heat and simmer for another 3 to 5 minutes. Using a fork, pull out the garlic and the basil leaves and discard. Add the cream and the butter and whisk. Gnocchi can take about three minutes to cook, so I cook them just before I'm adding the cream so everything comes together rather quickly (but check package directions).  Then add the Parmesan cheese and whisk again. Remove from heat and stir in the cooked gnocchi. Garnish with extra cheese and parsley when serving.


In a food processor, puree 1 1/2  cans (drained, 28-ounce cans) of Italian plum tomatoes. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, and then pour the tomato puree through the fine mesh sieve and push the tomato through the sieve. Keep pushing the tomatoes until what remains is skin and seeds. Discard the remnants, keep the smooth tomatoes.  This is what Italians call Passata or "to pass-through".  Set this aside. 

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