Semolina Gnocchi ~ Gnocchi alla Romana

A white casserole dish filled with slices of semolina gnocchi or gnocchi alla Romana on a stack of linen napkins with a serving utensil beside it.

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
  • (1)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 4 entrees, 8 starters
5/5 - 1 reviews
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To make the semolina gnocchi, heat the milk and salt in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. When the milk starts to simmer, slowly sprinkle the semolina flour over the surface, whisking constantly to make sure that lumps do not form. Once all the semolina has been added, reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to whisk for 7 to 10 more minutes, until the gnocchi-to-be mixture becomes thick and velvety. The mixture may thicken considerably after just a few minutes, but try to continue to cook it for the full 7 to 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the eggs, and the butter. Turn the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet, spreading it evenly into a 1/2 inch thickness. Set aside in the fridge, if there’s room, or set aside at room temperature until cool and firm, about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 400° F (200°C). Using a cookie cutter or the mouth of a glass that’s about 2 inches wide, cut the cooled semolina into gnocchi. Dip the cutter or glass into water between each press to prevent the dough from sticking. Place the cut gnocchi on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, making sure to leave at least 1/2 inch between them so that their edges can caramelize.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the bread crumbs on top of the semolina gnocchi. If you don’t want them thickly coated, don’t use all of the cheese and crumbs. Bake until the semolina gnocchi are golden brown, slightly puffed, and crisp around the edges, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot.

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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.

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  1. Was this supposed to be soft & hard to handle? I followed all correctly but it’s “squishy” and sticks to everything-doesn’t form neat rounds that are easy to pick up

    1. Melissa, the gnocchi should be a little sticky and you may want to flour your hands before handling them. However, the mixture should have firmed up enough in the fridge for you to be able to cut it and transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet.

  2. I was really looking forward to making these lovely looking pillows of semolina and did so as a side to veal saltimbocca – my husband’s favorite dish. Well, it would have helped if I had read the recipe correctly as I added the entire cup of Parmesan with the eggs to the semolina/milk mixture and then wondered why it was so difficult to whisk for 7 minutes. I only was able to whisk for about 3-4 minutes, spread it out on a sheet pan (it looked okay!!), let it cool and cut out lovely little rounds, sprinkled with yet more Parmesan and bread crumbs. Alas, they did not puff up at all and were quite dense and really not tasty in the least. Tried to dip them in the veal sauce, but even that didn’t help. I have more semolina so perhaps I will try again – you do think the over-abundance of Parmesan caused my recipe flop, don’t you?

  3. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes and the mixture is always too much when I’m cooking for one (what a shame…). I freeze leftover mixture in small batches and take them out to make the croquettes, rolling them in bread crumbs and Reggiano. The mixture can get a bit wet–easily overcome by mixing in some more semolina.

  4. These looked great, lovely texture and delicious smell… They should have tasted fabulous, but were rather spoiled by the fact that this recipe calls for far too much salt. 2-3 tsps is really too much, I wouldn’t use that amount even in a big pot of stew or soup, nevermind for a modest amount of gnocci with 1/2 cup salty parmesan cheese still to go in it. Sadly it was my partner cooking at that point and he’d already put it in before I could stop him 🙁 So sadly the flavour was pretty horrible, in the future I think I will be using about 1/2 tsp salt, if any. With that adjustment I’m sure the next batch will taste fantastic.

    1. Hi Emma, I’m so sorry that you felt these were too salty. This is one of my favorite recipes though I do have to admit, I’m a salt lover. Perhaps by decreasing the salt next time, they will be more to your liking. Hope so!

      1. I used 2 tsp fine salt and they were just right for me 🙂

        I cut them in squares to avoid scraps. From a 9×13 pan, I made 12 squares, and we were full on 2, served with meat sauce and salad.

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