A great alternative to mashed potatoes! Gnocchi alla Romana (otherwise known as Semolina Gnocchi) is an ideal side dish for roasted or grilled meat – creamy, cheesy, and with bits of crunch on the sides! Simply heavenly!
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This traditional dish from Rome feels like a hug from your favorite nonna — pure comfort, warmth, and deliciousness in every bite.
Velvety semolina, with the lusciousness of the butter and crunchy bits of cheese, gnocchi alla romana just melts in your mouth.
And don’t think it’s too much work. Trust me; if you are new to making gnocchi (of any type), semolina gnocchi is the most forgiving version that you could start with.
Just give it a try – and then you can try semolina bread as well! 🙂
IF YOU WANT MORE AUTHENTIC ITALIAN RECIPES, THEN YOU WILL LIKE THESE POSTS!
- Milk – I strongly suggest using full cream milk for this gnocchi alla romana recipe.
- Egg – you would only use the yolk.
- Semolina – also referred to as durum wheat semolina, or ‘semola rimacinata’ in Italian.
- Butter – note that I used unsalted butter in this recipe; hence I added half a teaspoon of salt.
You might need to adjust that if you are using salted butter.
- Parmigiano Reggiano – as far as I know, the authentic version of semolina gnocchi uses Parmigiano.
You can use Grana Padano if that’s what you have. But remember that there is less ‘oomph’ in Grana than Parmigiano (Grana is slightly less intense, more delicate, in my opinion).
- Seasoning – salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
Oh! And if you want more crunchy bits on top, you have to put TONS of cheese on top before placing it in the oven.
Start preparing your semolina gnocchi by combining milk, salt, and nutmeg in a medium-sized saucepan (photo 1).
Place the saucepan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
When the milk is almost boiling (you will see bubbles forming on the sides), slowly add the semolina — while whisking continuously (photo 2).
Lower the heat into medium-low and continue whisking until the semolina starts pulling away from the sides of the pan. This normally takes about ten minutes.
Take the saucepan off the heat.
Using a small bowl, mix the yolk, half of the grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and half of the melted butter (photo 3).
Combine the yolk mixture with the semolina and mix evenly with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon.
Transfer the mixture into a small tray (I used 25-cm x 17 cm) and spread it evenly (photo 4).
Place the tray in the refrigerator for at least an hour for the mixture to harden.
Preheat the oven into 225°C (425°F) and lightly grease the skillet with butter.
Use a 6-cm cookie cutter to cut round portions (gnocchi) of the hardened mixture (photo 5).
Place each portion into a buttered skillet, forming a circle (photo 6).
Drizzle your semolina gnocchi with the remaining melted butter (photo 7).
Top with the remaining grated parmigiano Reggiano (photo 8).
Place the skillet in the middle of the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes or until the top turned golden.
Serve your gnocchi alla romana with more freshly grated cheese on top, if desired.
- You have to keep whisking while adding the semolina to eliminate lumps in the mixture.
- Start using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon as soon as you feel that the whisk is no longer enough — and it’s ok to put down your arms for a few seconds to rest. 🙂
- Make sure that the melted butter you are mixing with the yolk is not hot, or you might end up cooking the yolk.
- The plastic that you used to line your tray should make it easier for you to lift the hardened mixture out of the tray for cutting.
- If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can certainly use a small baking dish for baking your gnocchi alla romana.
You can definitely prepare the mixture and keep it in the refrigerator until it’s time for you to bake it.
However, you have to keep it uncovered when you place it inside the refrigerator.
Moisture will always form on top of the cover, making the top of the mixture moist — you will never get it ready for cutting into portions.
As a side dish, I normally serve it with grilled or roasted meats. Sometimes though, I serve it as a main as well, with some fresh salad.
I know some people serve it with marinara sauce. Not me. Creamy, cheesy, and with crunchy edges – another winner ‘comfort food‘ on my list.
So, give gnocchi alla romana a try this weekend and let me know what you think in the comment section below!
Gnocchi Alla Romana Recipe (Semolina Gnocchi)
- 1 & 1/3 cup milk
- 7 tbsp semolina flour
- 3 tbsp butter, unsalted & melted (divided into two 1.5 tbsps)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch nutmeg
- butter, for greasing
Preparing the semolina mixture:
- Using a medium-sized saucepan, combine milk, salt, and nutmeg.
- Place saucepan in medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- When you see that the milk is close to boiling (bubbles are forming on the side of the pan), slowly add the semolina flour while whisking.
- Adjust heat to medium-low and continue whisking until the semolina starts pulling from the sides. It's easier to use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon instead of a whisk at this stage. This should take you about 10 minutes.
- Take the saucepan out of the heat.
- Using a small bowl, combine and mix the yolk, half of the melted butter, and half of the grated Parmigiano.
- Add this yolk mixture into the semolina and mix thoroughly.
- Line your small oven tray with plastic and spread the mixture evenly on it. Use an angled spatula to even out the top. It should be about 1 to 1.5 cm thick.
- Place the tray in the refrigerator for about 60 to 90 minutes. Depending on how cold your refrigerator is, the mixture should already be quite solid by this time.
Baking your semolina gnocchi:
- Preheat your oven to 225°C (425°F) and lightly grease the skillet with butter.
- Take the tray out of the refrigerator and lift the mixture out, using the plastic under.
- Place on an even surface and start cutting portions (gnocchi) by using a cookie cutter.
- Arrange the gnocchi on the skillet, slightly overlapping and forming a circle.
- Drizzle the arranged semolina gnocchi with the remaining melted butter, and top with the remaining grated Parmigiano.
- Place the skillet in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or when the top has turned golden.
- Serve your freshly baked gnocchi alla romana — sprinkle more grated cheese, if desired.
- Cook’s Tip #1: I use unsalted butter in this recipe. If you are using salted butter, you might need to use less salt with the milk.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Remember to keep whisking while slowly adding the semolina. It helps in eliminating lumps in the mixture.
- Cook’s Tip #3: Do not hesitate to use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon for mixing the semolina as soon as you feel that the whisk is not enough — and it’s certainly ok to put down your arms for a few seconds to rest. (Phew!)
- Cook’s Tip #4: Check that the melted butter you are mixing with the yolk is not hot, or you might end up cooking the yolk.
- Cook’s Tip #5: The plastic that you used to line your tray should make it easier for you to lift the hardened mixture out of the tray for cutting into portions.
- Cook’s Tip #6: If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, feel free to use any oven-proof dish for baking your semolina gnocchi.