Copy Desk Cook-Off: Gnocchi Piccante

I’ve spent the better part of this semester batting a few recipe ideas around…Rummermelon (a frosty, rum-soaked treat)…penne a la vodka (my old specialty)…soylent-green quesadillas (¡El guacamole es GENTE!)…Putting these aside, I’ve opted for gnocchi in a spicy marinara sauce.



28 oz. canned tomatoes. Chopped or diced.

(I recommend Cento)

1.5 lb. potato gnocchi

2-5 cloves garlic, minced

Basil leaves. Fresh if you can find it

Spices, by importance: salt, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, cayenne

Cheese: parmesan, asiago or a vegan substitute if you’re into that


While good gnocchi is important, good sauce is critical. Jarred will never do. So, put a saucepan on medium heat with a hearty drizzle of olive oil, then the garlic. Hint: go by scent. If you smell it, it’s ready for the next step.

Once the garlic is ready, add your tomatoes. Stir and let it simmer on medium heat for some 20 minutes before the seasoning. This is a good point to get a half-full pot of lightly salted water boiling for the gnocchi. Keep the water covered and start adding seasonings to your taste. Keep stirring it and take frequent tastes. Be generous with the red pepper.

When the water boils, pour in the gnocchi. They should rise, but once they feel soft, they are probably ready. Then drain them with a colander and pour them into a serving bowl. Ladle in as much sauce as you are comfortable with. Sprinkle cheese (or cheese substitute) over the top and it’s ready to serve.

Buon appetito.

For of-agers: Serve it with a hearty Italian red wine. Cabernet Sauvignons will always do the trick, but a Chianti or Sangiovese will make for a more interesting culinary experience.