Gnocchi alla Romana
This wonderful dish of goodness is called Gnocchi alla Romana, but it’s not at all like the gnocchi you may know of, commonly made with potatoes. These are made with semolina and they will fast become your favorite comfort food. In Marcella Hazan’s “The Classic Italian Cookbook,” she mentions that this dish can be traced back directly to Imperial Rome. Apicius, the Roman gourmet who lived during the 1st century, had a recipe for gnocchi made of semolina exactly like these, then fried and served with honey. These are made the same way, but baked in the oven with freshly grated parmesan cheese and are as light as can be.
My friend Alessandra, who’s not from Rome, but from Padova, prepared them for yesterday’s gathering of “Le Matte.” Alessandra is one of those people who you thank God you have as a friend. Not because she’s a wonderful cook, a welcoming hostess, a talented quilt-maker, a nurturing mother and grandmother, and a gifted teacher (all of which she is), but because she stands alone in her generosity of spirit and ability to bring out the best in people, whether they’re her personal friends or not.
So even if you can’t count on Alessandra as your neighbor and friend, at least you can have her gnocchi alla Romana. Here’s the recipe:
Start with the semolina. You can sometimes buy it in bulk in health food stores, but our supermarkets sell it in vacuum-sealed packages that look like this:
Now here’s what to do with it:
Gnocchi Alla Romana
printable recipe here
One package of semolina (17.6 ounces or nearly 3 cups)
2 quarts of milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup parmesan cheese, plus a few more tablespoons for sprinkling
Bring two quarts of milk to a boil and slowly pour in a stream of the semolina, mixing the whole time. Cook for a few minutes, then remove from the heat and briskly add the eggs, being careful not to scramble them. Add about 1 cup of parmesan cheese. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet moistened with water and chill. Using a round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut the semolina into disks. You will be making two layers, so save the nicest rounds for the top layer. Starting with the bottom layer, arrange the disks around the perimeter and use the little odd shapes that remain for the interior of the bottom layer. Pour half of the melted butter over the disks, and sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese. For the top layer, place the disks all over the first layer, except for around the perimeter. You’ll want to leave them exposed so that they too become golden brown in the oven. Pour the rest of the butter and a couple more tablespoons of parmesan cheese over the rest of the rounds. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. For even more color, place under the broiler for a few minutes at the very end.
Wait a couple of minutes if you have the patience of Job, otherwise dig right into these:
They’re perfect Linda.
I need to get on her friend list 🙂
oh wow! that looks amazing! actually, I love anything with melted cheese on top, but yours just makes me salivate like crazy!
This is my family favorite, I make them on a regular basis. I even like to eat it just like that without any sauce, or meat. Yours look so delicious Linda!
I could smell this – seriously – wow this looks so good – I would love a big healthy scoop!
The golden-brown topping is the “money shot”…a great side to a slow roasted meat dish, I resume? Is it Sunday yet?
WOW! this looks so yummy. Where did you say she lives? Does she have any leftovers?
oh man…those look incredible! I’ve starred this recipe for sure!
Mmmmm, Linda, You’ve done it again!
I want to chew on my monitor. :/
OMgooooshh I need to make these!
It is ages I have not eaten this dish… last time I was in primary school, they were making it very often. It is so good! Thanks for the recipe, I will try it.
I love Marcella’s book.
Your friend sounds as wonderful as her gnocchi looks.
Wow! Looks delicious! I’ll make it tonight. Thanks for the recipe and the story. Pam
I just saw these on my friend Shane’s blog and now yours. Maybe it’s a sign, I need to try making them! They look delicious!
These gnocchi look and sound amazing! A very unique recipe!
WOW that looks fantastic! I sure hope my oven gets fixed soon – really sucks not having an oven. This will be one of the first recipes I try.
Unfortunately I’ve not had one since the Friday before Mother’s Day – waiting for parts.
This reminds me I need to make some gnocchi. This looks perfectly delicious!
Well, I’ve never had them but I think they’re already my favorite comfort food!
WOW, your gnocchi look just so delicious…my mouth is watering just to look at the pictures…really nice. By the way, thank you for visiting my site.
These look amazing, I don’t believe I’ve ever had this kind of gnocchi before. I have some semolina in the pantry, so I will definitely try these soon.
Ooh….this looks so good! My son and I make potato gnocchi together and we’ll definitely try this soon. Thanks.
These gnocchi look incredible! I can imagine how good they must be. This is going on my to-do list.
These look so good! I don’t think we’ve ever had gnocchi made with semolina. I like how they are baked and not boiled. I will definitely try this someday!
Che buoni! Love that you got the tops so brown. Have you ever tried putting a hint of nutmeg in gnocchi alla romana?
Fantastic! I’ve never had or seen anything like this before but it’s immediately set off a craving. Bookmarking this immediately!
[…] and are the first place I go to when I’m looking for a traditional recipe like basil pesto or gnocchi alla romana. Born in Italy, she wrote her cookbooks in Italian, and her husband, Victor Hazan, translated them […]
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