Gnocchi are a varied family of dumplings in Italian cuisine. They are made of small lumps of dough most traditionally composed of a simple combination of wheat flour, egg, salt, and potato. Gnocchi are commonly cooked in salted boiling water and then dressed with various sauces. The word gnocchi may be derived from the Italian word nocchio, meaning a knot in wood, or from nocca, meaning knuckle. It has been a traditional type of Italian pasta since Roman times.
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Yield: 4 servings
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 (12- to 18-ounce) packages shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi
¼ cup unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pints small tomatoes, such as cherry, grape or Sungold
¼ cup thinly sliced or torn basil leaves (optional), plus more for serving
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut or torn into ½-inch pieces
Heat the broiler with a rack about 6 inches from the heat source.
In a large (12-inch) skillet on the stovetop, heat enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan (about 1 tablespoon) over medium-high. Add half the gnocchi to the pan, breaking up any that are stuck together. Cover with a lid or baking sheet and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi and olive oil.
Add the butter to the skillet and cook over medium-high, stirring often, until golden-brown and toasty, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic, red-pepper flakes, 1½ teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper, reducing the heat slightly if necessary to avoid scorching. Add the tomatoes and 3 tablespoons water and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes have softened and the liquid has slightly thickened, 4 to 6 minutes. Smash the tomatoes as they burst to help them along.
Add the seared gnocchi and ¼ cup basil (if using), stir to coat, then shake into an even layer. Top with the mozzarella and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Broil until the cheese is melted and browned in spots, 2 to 4 minutes. Top with more basil, red-pepper flakes and black pepper as desired.