In keeping with the dish’s Roman roots, this semolina gnocchi is made from coarsely ground semolina flour, hot milk, and eggs. To form the gnocchi, a rich polenta-like paste is prepared, cooled, and then cut into disks using the wet rim of a small glass. The disks are then sprinkled with Parmesan and bread crumbs, and baked in a hot oven to puff them up.–Jessica Theroux
LC Gnot Your Gnormal Gnocchi Note
Nope. No potatoes or fork tines or tiny little pillows in sight. And that’s not a terrible thing, not when you consider how light and airy this intriguing approach to gnocchi can be. Still, they’re quite indulgent, much more a starter or a side than a centerpiece to a meal. So indulgent that we think you, like us, won’t want to waste a single scrap of dough. Which calls to mind Marcella Hazan‘s tactic for dealing with gnocchi trimmings in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Just knead the trimmings together into a ball (you can wrap and refrigerate the trimmings for up to a day or two). Then pinch off croquette-size pieces and shape them into short, plump forms that are tapered at both ends, about 2 1/2 inches in length. Roll the forms in dry, unflavored bread crumbs and fry them in hot vegetable oil until they take on a light, golden crust. Sounds lovely, yes? And that’s just the trimmings. Wait until you try the actual gnocchi…
Semolina Gnocchi | Gnocchi alla Romana
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 15 M
- Makes 4 entrees, 8 starters
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Recipe Testers Reviews
I always thought gnocchi was nit-picky and time consuming, but I couldn’t be more wrong. The semolina paste is a cinch to make. I used a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, but next time, I’ll spread the mixture onto a baking sheet, just so it’s easier to get an even thickness and easier to remove (I’m terribly klutzy in the kitchen, and the sides of the baking dish got in the way). When the gnocchi finished baking, they were puffed, golden, and delicious. I didn’t want to throw the scraps away because I wanted to make more.
This is gnot your gnormal gnocchi—these are light and airy, with crispy edges, and are oh-so simple to make. The first time, I made them as directed and served them with pork medallions and a simple tomato sauce. The second time I made these, I decided to have some fun. I plopped in some finely chopped prosciutto, and a dash of fresh herbs, and smoothed the mixture out in a 12-by-17-inch sheet pan. I ended up with thin little rounds that were perfect to hold a dollop of red pepper tapenade. It was perfect fare for a last minute cocktail party—just cut them out, and leave them to rest on the sheet pan, ready to go. TIP: If you want a smidge more crispiness, mix the topping ingredients with a bit of melted butter.
This recipe was not only tasty, but also very easy—and I love a recipe that can be made ahead of time and baked when ready. I used a 9-by-13-inch dish and measured the thickness (which was just over a half-inch), and a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut the circles. I was concerned the gnocchi would stick to the pan, but they came out easily with a spatula. And, with a full cup of parmesan and bread crumb mixture for the topping, I did more than “sprinkle”—I lightly pressed a thick layer on the tops of each. To get a nice brown color on the gnocchi, it took about 40 minutes. Everyone loved them, with their slightly crunchy exteriors and creamy centers, but we agreed they were much better with the tomato sauce I’d made. I’ll definitely make these again, as they make a great appetizer served with sauce for dipping.
If a gougère and a cheese cracker had a baby, it would be these deliciously cheesy, soft patties. These are nothing like any gnocchi I’ve had before, but I loved them. They’d be great as a starter, but I do have a hard time seeing them as a main course, unless it was a for a ladies’ luncheon.
I did have a few technical problems with the recipe, however. The semolina thickened almost immediately, and the milk was barely simmering when I added the semolina. The mixture quickly became too thick to whisk, so I took it off the heat at 3 minutes because I was afraid to let it continue cooking. It was so thick that I had a hard time mixing in the eggs, butter, and cheese. Also, the suggested 9-by-13-inch pan was a little too small for the batter. It was also hard to cut the gnocchi, as my pan has slightly sloped edges. Next time, I’ll use a jelly roll pan. I also had about four times the amount of bread crumb and cheese mixture I needed to sprinkle on top of the gnocchi. That’s not much of a problem, though, as I fully intend to use up my package of semolina with more of these tasty bites.