Ciro’s Gnocchi

30 minutes

15 minutes (+ 1 hour to roast potatoes)




700–800g Agria potatoes, scrubbed (leave skin on)
1 free-range egg
¾ tsp salt
150g ‘00’ Italian flour

Tomato Basil Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1½ x 400g cans Italian crushed tomatoes
very generous handful basil leaves
150g fresh mozzarella
handful grated parmesan


te Pa 2020 Sauvignon Blanc


This recipe is from my vegetable cookbook, Vegful.

In my teens I worked as a waitress in an Italian restaurant run (very authentically) by Ciro Sanino from Naples and he made THE best fresh gnocchi. Up until that point I’d always thought gnocchi was overrated because I’d only had dense, bland and chewy stuff out of a packet. Homemade gnocchi is entirely different — soft, silky, delicate little mouthfuls of potato-ey pasta. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy and satisfying it is to make. Whilst you can use plain flour, '00' Italian flour (which is very finely milled) works best and is easy to find these days.


Preheat oven to 200°C.

Place whole potatoes on an oven tray and bake for about 1 hour (depending on the size of potatoes) until very tender — test with a skewer or tip of a sharp knife; it should poke right through with no resistance.

Cut potatoes in half and peel off the skins while still warm. Push warm potato flesh through a potato ricer or a sieve (with the help of the back of a large spoon) into a large bowl. This ensures light gnocchi; whatever you do, do not mash the potato.

Add egg and salt and mix in with a fork. Sift in flour and use your hands to bring together as a soft dough. Add a little more flour if needed — it should feel dry to the touch, but not crumbly. Knead a few times, then divide into 6 pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece out to a log about 30cm long, then cut in bite-sized 2cm pieces. Gently push the tip of your thumb or finger into the centre of each piece to make a little indent (this makes the perfect little hollow for sauce to pool in). Place gnocchi in a large dish or on a tray (with a lip) and dust with flour. Shake pieces around to coat then set aside until ready to cook.

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil and preheat oven to grill. While water is coming to the boil, make the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large heatproof frying pan on medium heat. Sizzle garlic for 1–2 minutes (but do not let it brown) then stir in crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 5–8 minutes until thickened, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir through basil.

Drop about half of the gnocchi (one by one) into the boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes, scooping them out with a slotted spoon as they bob to the surface. Transfer straight into the pan of hot tomato sauce.

Once all the gnocchi are in the pan, gently toss to coat in sauce and top with mozzarella and parmesan. Place under the oven grill for about 5 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and mozzarella is melted. Serve immediately.


Wine match: te Pā 2020 Sauvignon Blanc