Although gnocchi is most commonly known to be the little ridged potato dumplings we all love, gnocchi actually knows many forms in Italy. There are ricotta versions, pasta versions, and Gnocchi Alla Romana, which is a cooked dough made of semolina flour. The technique for making Gnocchi Alla Romana is very different than it is for other forms of gnocchi – the dough is made on the stovetop, then after cutting out the shapes, it gets baked in the oven. The texture on the outside gets a bit crispy, while the inside is soft and cheesy. It’s a really delicious comfort food that’s perfect for fall and winter, and reminds me of being a kid again.
The history on this dish is debated, but it’s believed that it originated in the north of Italy where the winter months get very cold. It makes perfect sense to me, considering how hearty and cozy of a dish it is. Traditionally, this gets served with a sort of butter sauce, but I think it’s extra flavorful and hearty with marinara. I like to serve a little extra sauce on the side for dipping, too. To really take it to the next level and make it authentic, try it with my homemade Parmesan Pomodoro!
Gnocchi Alla Romana
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 3/4 cups fine semolina flour, such as Moretti
- 1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 cup marinara or pomodoro sauce, either homemade or storebought, plus extra for dipping if desired
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
- 5 basil leaves, chopped, optional
- Lined a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- To a medium saucepan add the milk, broth, 2 tablespoons butter and salt.
- Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. When the milk mixture begins to simmer, pour the semolina into the milk in a steady stream while whisking constantly. Change to a rubber spatula and cook, stirring often until very thick and smooth, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Quickly stir in 1 cup of parmesan cheese and the egg yolks. Spread the mixture on the prepared tray to a 10x12 inch rectangle, about 1/3 inch thick. Allow to cool to room temperature for 30 minutes then cool entirely in the refrigerator for about 1 hour or until set.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 9x13 baking dish or oven-safe skillet, and add two cups of marinara to coat the bottom of the dish.
- Using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, cut rounds of semolina dough. Place in the prepared baking dish overlapping the rounds slightly. Dot the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, sprinkle with the chopped basil and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan and 1/2 cup pecorino cheeses. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown. Turn the broiler to high and broil for an 5 minutes or until deep golden brown and crispy. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.