Gnocchi, Sausage, Tomato, Peas, Smoked Mozzarella

A few years ago, Colleen (pregnant with our son, Roman); the girls, Vivian and Marcella; and I spent Christmas on the Aeolian island of Salina, just off the coast of Sicily. One of the dishes that we were served at a local restaurant was called Rigatoni alla Fantasia. The fat, tubular pasta was dressed with an eggplant puree, peas, and smoked scamorza—a soft cheese that’s something like a cross between provolone cheese and mozzarella. I’ve always wanted to use smoked mozzarella in a dish. I recalled the Roman habit of cooking sausage with peas and thought those ingredients would be just the right combination with smoked mozzarella. When the smoky, soft cheese melts over the gnocchi, sausage, and peas, a fantasia is realized.–Ron and Colleen Suhanosky

Special Equipment: Food mill or potato ricer

Gnocchi, Sausage, Tomato, Peas, Smoked Mozzarella Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • 1 H, 10 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • For the gnocchi
  • 3 pounds unpeeled Idaho potatoes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • Rice flour, for dusting
  • 1 recipe potato gnocchi
  • 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup fresh shelled or frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

Directions

  • Make the gnocchi
  • 1. Gently boil the potatoes in their jackets in a large pot of water over medium heat until a tester passes easily through the thickest part. Remove the potatoes from the pot and let cool to the touch; they shouldn’t get completely cold.
  • 2. Wrap the potatoes in a kitchen towel or cotton napkin and rub to remove the skins. Pass the potatoes through a food mill fitted with a medium-hole disk, or through a ricer, into a large mixing bowl.
  • 3. Spread the all-purpose flour on a clean, dry work surface. Place the potatoes on top of the flour. Add the salt and egg. Use your hands to gather the ingredients together and gently knead the dough into a 10-by-8-inch log. Let rest for 2 minutes.
  • 4. Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with rice flour. Cut the log into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 1-inch-thick rope. Cut each rope into 1/2-inch-wide gnocchi. Store the gnocchi on a rice flour–covered baking sheet until ready to use. Dust with rice flour.
  • 5. Note: The gnocchi can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. To prepare them for the freezer, place them, dusted with rice flour, in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze. Once frozen, place them one on top of the other in an airtight container. To thaw for cooking, place the gnocchi in a single layer on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for not more than 1 hour before cooking. Cook according to the recipe directions.
  • Make the dish
  • 6. Heat the grape seed oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage. Use a wooden spoon to break it up. Move the sausage around and cook until the pink disappears and it’s browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, water, peas, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the liquid has reduced to the desired consistency, about 10 minutes.
  • 7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook until they float to the top. Cook for 1 more minute.
  • 8. While the gnocchi are cooking, evenly distribute the mozzarella over the sauce.
  • 9. Use a wire-mesh skimmer to remove the gnocchi from the pot and place them directly into the skillet. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to carefully fold together the gnocchi and sauce.
  • 10. Serve immediately.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Brenda C.] We had a package of lovely local Italian sausage that was brilliant in this ragu-like sauce. We loved the piquancy of the sausage, garlic, and tomatoes, while the peas added a bright freshness. The sauce, when spooned over the gnocchi, immediately made the dish sing. It completely enlivened the gnocchi, yet did not overwhelm it. (I didn’t use the gnocchi recipe but rather relied on my own.) I took the liberty of sprinkling on torn fresh basil to add the punch I felt was missing. The crowning touch was oozing, bubbly smoked mozzarella. What a great combination! Smoked cheeses are a particular weakness of mine, and in this recipe it was tantalizingly delicious and a stroke of genius. While making it I tasted more than I usually do because I couldn’t help myself. Our Italian sausage was very flavorful, but if yours is bland you will need to adjust seasoning.

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