For The Gnocchi
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Wash the potatoes under cold running water and pat dry.
Use a large knife and make a deep incision length-wise into each potato.
Place the potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake until they are tender, for about 1 hour.
Let potatoes cool a little but do peel them while they are still a bit warm.
Put them through a potato ricer. Alternately you can use a potato masher or a fork.
Place the mashed potatoes in a large bowl.
Add in the salt, 1 tablespoon of beaten egg and 1 and 1/2 cups of flour.
Using your hands, mix well just until the flour and potatoes stick together forming a rough looking dough.
Transfer the dough to a wooden board or work surface.
Knead the dough lightly, gradually adding a little bit of the remaining flour if the dough is sticking too heavily on your work surface. (I did not need all of the remaining 1/2 cup more of flour)
Knead for 2 to 3 minutes.
The dough should be smooth, pliable and just a little bit sticky.
Cut off a section of dough at a time.
Roll the piece of dough with a back and forth motion until you get the thickness of your index finger.
Cut the roll into 1 inch pieces.
Repeat with the remaining dough.
To shape the gnocchi, I used my little wooden gnocchi board with ridges.
Alternately, you can use the back of a fork .
Hold the fork at 45 degree angle, with the tines down on the work surface with its' inside curve towards you.
Take a gnocchi role and press it with your index finger against the tip end of the fork while quickly sliding it up along the length of the fork tins.
Or simply use your index and middle fingers by pressing both fingers down into the gnocchi and rolling quickly towards you. The gnocchi will flip over and have a pretty indentation.
Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Transfer the gnocchi on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cover with a clean dish towel.
Set aside while you prepare the sauce.
Tomato Basil Sauce
Heat the oil in a medium sauce pot over medium low heat and saute the garlic with the crushed chili pepper just until fragrant, taking care not to burn the garlic. (should take less then a minute).
Add in the passata (Italian strained tomatoes), basil, salt and pepper and stir well.
Fill the bottle of passata three quarters full with water. Give it a good swirl and add this to the sauce.
Bring the sauce to a boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the sweet concentrated flavors of the tomatoes come through.
While the sauce simmers, fill a large sauce pot with water and bring to a rapid boil.
Add salt to the boiling water and then the gnocchi.
Once the gnocchi come to surface they are pretty much ready. Leave them floating for about 10 seconds. (If they stay in the water too long, they will become mushy).
Remove the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and place them on a serving platter.
Pour a little of the sauce over the gnocchi, stir to combine then mix in the diced mozzarella.
The heat of the tomato sauce will slowly melt the mozzarella.
Divide the gnocchi onto four plates. Top with more sauce and Parmesan cheese.
Serve while still hot.