This is a very tasty and filling meal that should be served right out of the pan to get all of the flavor. It comes from Ali Slagle in NYTimes Cooking and uses packaged gnocchi – but could benefit from homemade gnocchi if time allows. It has many different stages, that are short and not difficult, but should be followed in order to get the depth it needs.
For this you’ll need: x2 packages of potato gnocchi (usually refrigerated), 2 Tbs olive oil, x4 garlic cloves (sliced thin), 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, 2-3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup fresh basil (thinly sliced), 8 oz fresh mozzarella (shredded into smaller pieces), salt and pepper.
Turn on your oven’s broiler to Hi and let it heat up. Place a shelf about 6″ below the broiler.
Put 1 Tbsp olive oil into a large, oven proof skillet (12″ or larger) over medium heat. Once the oil is simmering, place the gnocchi in a single layer into the skillet (you will probably need to do 2 batches). Don’t toss, cover the skillet and allow to cook, untouched, for 2-3 mins until golden on one side. Remove from skillet and place into a medium bowl. Repeat with the rest of the gnocchi.
In the same skillet add the butter, again over medium heat. Melt and allow to just begin to brown and smell nutty – about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat if you need to so that it does not scorch. Add the sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, about a tsp of salt and good grinding of black pepper. Toss well over medium heat until fragrant – about 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes (whole) and about 3 Tbsp water and toss well to fully coat the tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to blister and break up – use the back of a wooden spoon to gently “smash” them to help them along. Cook until the tomatoes are blistered and softened and the sauce has thickened – about 4-6 minutes.
Add the browned gnocchi and chopped basil and toss everything together to fully coat and combine. Place the shredded mozzarella all over the top and then drizzle some addition olive oil over the top. Place the skillet under the broiler and allow the cheese to melt and brown – be sure to monitor it well as broilers can burn fast.
Add just a bit of chopped fresh basil over the top and serve directly from the pan.