Gnocchi alla Romana, also known as Semolina Gnocchi, is an ideal dish when you need Italian comfort food. When hearing the word “gnocchi”, most of us will automatically think of the small pillows of potato dough. However, there are many types of gnocchi and I love them all. Gnocchi alla Romana, meaning “gnocchi in the Roman manner”, is an easy dish to make. They are crispy and golden on the outside and tender on the inside. So good!
1tablespoonextra virgin olive oilTo grease the sheet pan
For the Gnocchi:
3cups(750 ml) milkSee Note 1
1 ½ teaspooncoarse saltSee Note 2
⅛teaspoonfreshly ground nutmeg
⅔cup(110 g) semolina flour
1largeegg - lightly beaten
1 cup(85 g) grated parmesan cheeseSee Note 3
¼cup(60 g) butter - melted
½cup(45 g) grated Parmesan cheese See Note 3
Brush a 26cm x 32cm (10 ¼ inch x 12 ½ inch) sheet pan or Swiss roll pan with olive oil. – see Note 4Prepare a large ceramic or enamelled cast-iron casserole dish or two smaller dishes in which to bake the gnocchi. – see Note 5Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees C (400 F).
In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, bring milk, salt and nutmeg to a boil.
Reduce the heat and very gradually add the semolina in a thin, steady stream. Whisk constantly to avoid the semolina forming lumps. - see Note 6As the mixture becomes too thick to use the whisk, switch to a wooden spoon.
Continue cooking, uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, combine the beaten egg and 1 cup (85 gm) of the Parmesan cheese.Add to the semolina mixture and stir well.
Spread the mixture onto the prepared Swiss roll pan or baking tray. Use a wet spatula or dampened fingertips to smooth the dough until it is 5mm (¼”) thick. Refrigerate about 30-60 minutes, or until the semolina is firm.
Cut circles using a 5cm (2”) cookie cutter. See Note 7.Arrange the dough in your baking dish (oil side down), overlapping, in oven-proof dish/dishes.
If cutting in circles, you will have some leftover dough. Push it together with your fingertips as best you can and continue cutting circles. Do this until all the dough is finished.
Pour the melted butter over the dough circles.Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden.
Use full cream or low-fat milk.
Use coarse kitchen salt, sometimes known as kosher salt. Do not use iodised salt or table salt as it is stronger than coarse salt.
For the best flavour, it is important to use a good quality Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself. Do not use packaged, pre-grated parmesan cheese. It frequently has unnecessary additives. I like to use Italian Grana Padano; it is less expensive than Parmigiano Reggiano but it has a fantastic flavour.
If you only have a larger baking tray it is not essential to use one with the exact measurements. The mixture doesn’t run so just spread it out to 5mm (¼”) thick and leave a gap at one end of the tray.
I used two dishes in which to bake the gnocchi. One was an oval dish, 27cm/2 ½” long 20cm/8” wide and a 22cm/9” round pan. That way I was able to keep one dish to use for another meal. You can, of course, bake the gnocchi in one large baking dish.
I find that a whisk is best to avoid lumps forming. And, it is essential that the semolina is added very slowly. If lumps should form, it is impossible to smooth them out – and this I know from experience. If this should happen to you, tip the mixture into a food processor and blend until the lumps are gone.
Although round discs are traditional, to speed up the process you could use a knife and cut the gnocchi into small squares. They will taste just as delicious.
Please note, the nutritional information is based on this recipe serving four people. It does not include what the dish is served with. Please note, the nutritional information is an estimate only.