Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce

5 from 1 vote
30 minutes
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Fresh cherry tomatoes add sweet summer seasonal goodness to puttanesca sauce, the classic Italian pulled-from-the-pantry dish! Add store-bought gnocchi for a quick and easy dinner that comes together in about 30 minutes!

Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce garnished with fresh parsley, basil and Parmesan cheese.

What is Puttanesca Sauce?

Puttanesca Sauce is a vibrant, assertive, flavorful sauce believed to have originated in Naples, Italy in the various houses of ill repute. The name roughly translates to a “lady of the night” of which there are various versions.

It is generally made from tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, sometimes onions or shallots and herbs, all ingredients that could be kept on hand and easily whipped together in between “clients.” Because Puttanesca sauce is so easy to make, the women could keep the interruption of their business to a minimum.

Other accounts state the ladies made the sauce to “attract” clients because it’s intense and aromatic. Yet another account has the sauce being created out of necessity in post-World War II Italy where food and ingredients were scarce.

Whatever the origin, Puttanesca sauce is easy, much can be pulled directly from the pantry and it’s super flavorful!!

Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce in white enamel cast iron skillet with some on serving spoon.

Why This Recipe Is A Keeper!

Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce is super easy, quick and so flavorful!

Whereas canned tomatoes are traditionally used in a puttanesca recipe, summer cherry tomatoes add a lovely fresh element that doesn’t require any more work than opening a can of tomatoes.

Much of the rest of the puttanesca sauce ingredients come straight from the pantry: Olive oil, dry white wine, olives, capers, anchovy paste crushed red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese. Add just a few fresh ingredients like garlic and fresh herbs and you’ve got a sauce that hits all the flavor notes!

Although puttanesca sauce is traditionally served with pasta, this recipe uses store-bought boxed gnocchi that cooks up in minutes in a saucepan rather than bringing a whole pot of water to a boil for pasta.

Let’s make it!

How to Make Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this puttanesca sauce and gnocchi recipe along with how to prep. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for the recipe in glass bowls on marble surface.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Cherry Tomatoes: Use fresh cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. Canned cherry tomatoes may be substituted.
  • Dry White Wine: Always use a wine (whether it’s white or red) that you would enjoy drinking. A bad wine only creates a bad flavor. For a non-alcoholic substitute, add a little vegetable broth or water with a splash of white or red wine vinegar. (The amount of alcohol remaining in wine vinegar is considered trace or non-existent.)
  • Capers: Capers are the green, unripened flower buds of the caper bush. You can find them in the pickled products section.
  • Kalamata Olives: Kalamata olives are large and dark brown (almost black with a smooth, meaty texture. They’re named after the city of Kalamata in the Peloponnese region of Greece.
  • Anchovy Paste: Anchovy paste is sold in tubes which makes it a wonderful convenience product. Anchovy paste has a milder flavor than anchovy fillets so if you’re not that much into anchovies, anchovy paste is a great alternative.
  • Gnocchi: I like the DeLallo brand but any packaged gnocchi which can be found in the pasta aisle will work.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Place a large saucepan of salted water on a burner and turn the heat to high to bring it to a boil for the gnocchi.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, make the puttanesca sauce.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper.
  • Turn the heat to medium-high.
Uncooked cherry tomatoes in white enamel cast iron skillet.
  • When the pan gets hot and there’s visible cooking action taking place, place a lid over the skillet and let the tomatoes fry, pop and burst for 2-3 minutes. Stir, then place the lid back on and repeat for another 3-4 minutes.

>>>AT THIS POINT, the water in your saucepan should be boiling and you’ll need to do two things at once: Cooking the gnocchi while proceeding with the puttanesca sauce.

Therefore:

  • Add the gnocchi and cook according to the package directions. The gnocchi should be starting to float. Drain and keep warm.
  • Add the wine, garlic and red pepper flakes. Boil for 2-3 minutes to reduce the wine while the gnocchi is cooking.
Cherry tomatoes with crushed red pepper flakes added.
  • Add the anchovy paste, olives, capers and heat through.
  • Add the parsley and basil. Taste and add a pinch of sugar if needed.
  • Toss in the gnocchi and stir.
  • Sprinkle the Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and you’re good to go!
  • Lovely, saucy, spicy and flavorful!!
  • Spoon it up and enjoy!!
Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce in white enamel cast iron skillet on white board.

Chef Tip:

  • The cherry tomatoes can also be roasted in the oven for even more depth of flavor if you don’t mind having your oven on and using one more pan. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place on a nonstick baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or so or until the tomatoes have burst and released their juices. Transfer to a skillet and proceed with adding the wine, garlic, etc. for the puttanesca recipe.
Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce with some on serving spoon in white enamel cast iron skillet.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce be made ahead?

Yes, absolutely! Make the sauce as directed, cool and refrigerate. Leave the cheese off. When you’re ready to serve, place it into a saucepan, skillet or saute pan and gently reheat over low to medium-low heat until it’s simmering. Cook the gnocchi and stir it into the puttanesca sauce. Add a little of the gnocchi cooking water if the sauce is too thick.

Is puttanesca sauce healthy?

Puttanesca sauce has a number of healthful ingredients like tomatoes, garlic and anchovies. The tomatoes and garlic provide antioxidants and the anchovies provide Omega-3 fatty acids. However, it also contains numerous ingredients that are high in sodium so be aware of that and be careful adding additional salt if you’re salt-sensitive.

Can puttanesca sauce be made vegan or vegetarian?

Yes, absolutely!! Leave out the anchovies and use a splash of vegan fish sauce instead. Parmesan cheese is not vegetarian because it has animal rennet so opt for plant-based Parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce in white enamel cast iron skillet with serving spoon scooping some up.

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Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce garnished with fresh parsley, basil and Parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato Puttanesca Sauce

5 from 1 vote

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Fresh cherry tomatoes add sweet summer seasonal goodness to puttanesca sauce, the classic Italian pulled-from-the-pantry dish! Add store-bought gnocchi for a quick and easy dinner that comes together in about 30 minutes!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 241 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes - (6 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 2/3 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons capers - rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh basil - thinly sliced
  • Pinch of sugar - if needed
  • 1 package (16-ounce) potato gnocchi
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - for serving

Instructions
 

  • Place a large saucepan of water on a burner, add salt and turn the heat to HIGH so that it comes to a boil for the gnocchi.
  • Place the cherry tomatoes in a large nonstick skillet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Turn the heat up to medium-high.
  • When it's hot, place a lid over the skillet and let the tomatoes fry, pop and burst for 2-3 minutes. Stir, then place the lid back on and repeat for another 3-4 minutes.
  • At this point, the saucepan of water should be boiling. Add the gnocchi and cook according to the package directions then drain and keep warm.
  • Add the wine, garlic and red pepper flakes. Boil for 2-3 minutes to reduce the wine.
  • Add the anchovy paste, olives, capers and heat through.
  • Add the parsley, basil, sugar and salt if needed. Toss the gnocchi into the sauce and stir. Serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Notes

The cherry tomatoes can also be roasted in the oven for even more depth of flavor if you don’t mind having your oven on and using one more pan. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place on a nonstick baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or so or until the tomatoes have burst and released their juices. Transfer to a skillet and proceed with adding the wine, garlic, etc.
MAKE AHEAD:  Do not cook the gnocchi if making it ahead of time.  Cook the sauce as directed, cool and refrigerate.  Leave the cheese off.  When you’re ready to serve, place it into a saucepan, skillet or saute pan and gently reheat over low to medium-low heat until it’s simmering.  Cook the gnocchi and stir it into the puttanesca sauce.  Add a little of the gnocchi cooking water if the sauce is too thick.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 241kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 859mg | Potassium: 896mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2252IU | Vitamin C: 88mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 4mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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