Friday, October 26, 2012

Gnocchi alla Romana

                           My youngest loves gnocchi, so I wanted to attempt to make her some from scratch.  Yes, it just wasn't going to be for her alone.  While I was looking up gnocchi recipes I came across  "Gnocchi alla Romana".  These are gnocchi made with semolina and not potato.  I always thought that gnocchi were just made with potato.  I was intrigued.  The potato gnocchi can seem a bit heavy.  Just with that last sentence, I answered my question about there being different types of gnocchi because I had labeled those gnocchi as potato.

                           It just so happens that potato gnocchi are more of a newer version of a gnocchi.  They've only been around since the 16th century (only : ) ), thanks to the introduction of the potato in Europe.  Prior to that they'd been made from flour and water and semolina.  So depending on where you lived in Italy the dish could be made of potato or semolina.

                            Alla Romana translates into "Roman style".  From what I read, it seems that they originated in Rome.  It is made with ingredients that would readily have been on hand in any Roman kitchen, semolina, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese.  So this could have been a budget friendly meal back in those days.  I would even consider it budget friendly today, depending of course on the cheese you use.

                             Semolina flour is available in the supermarket.  I found it in the natural food section of my supermarket.  I had purchased it months ago because I needed the flour for rolls I had made for my "Falafel Burgers".  I keep it fresh by keeping it in the freezer.

Ingredients (Slightly modified from

  1. 3 Cups milk (I used whole)
  2. 1 Cup Semolina
  3. 1 tsp salt
  4. 1/4 Cup butter melted and 2 Tbl butter
  5. 1 cup  shredded Italian cheese such as Parmesan.  I used a mixture of Asiago, Romano, Parmesan and Mozzarella. (You will also need some extra cheese to sprinkle on top of the gnocchi before they go in the oven.
  6. 1 egg
  7. Dash of nutmeg
  8. 1/3 Cup half and half
In a medium pot bring the milk to a low boil.  Add the salt.  Lower the heat to low and while whisking constantly add the semolina in a steady stream. 

Add the salt and nutmeg.  The mixture will start to thicken.  You will notice that it will pull away from the sides of the pot.  When it is super thick and seems to be a big glob remove from the heat.  Then add the butter and stir.  After the butter is incorporated, mix in the cheese.

In a small bowl beat the egg with a fork.  Then add the egg to the mixture and stir to incorporate.
On a prepared baking sheet, (I lined a baking sheet with foil and sprayed cooking spray on it), spoon the mixture onto it.  Then spread it out to about 1/2 an inch.

I used wet fingers to spread the mixture.
Place in the fridge covered, to cool for one hour.  At this point if you want to prepare the dish ahead of time you can leave it until the next day.
After the hour, take a 2 inch round biscuit cutter or glass and cut out circles.  Lay them on top of each other in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
Finish filling up the dish.  I had extra left over so I added a smaller dish as well.
Then, sprinkle more parmesan cheese over the gnocchi.
In a small bowl mix the 1/4 of melted butter and the half and half.  Pour it over the gnocchi.
In a preheated oven, 350F, place the gnocchi in the oven for 20 minutes.  The butter and cheese should be all bubbly.  To brown the gnocchi put the oven on the broil setting.  It should brown within 3 minutes.
If you enjoy dumplings, you will like these.  They are not as heavy feeling in your stomach as potato gnocchi are.  They are actually creamy.  This dish was easy to make and I liked that you can prepare it ahead of time.  These yummy circles went swiftly.


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