Gnocchi alla Romana, are soft little discs made from a mixture of semolina, milk, butter, eggs and cheese, placed in a baking pan, covered with butter and pecorino cheese and then baked in the oven! Where they form a golden, crispy crust that makes them irresistible!
When you think of gnocchi, the first image that often comes to mind is of the pillowy potato-based dumplings from Northern Italy, swimming in rich sauces and offering comfort with every morsel.
But a lesser-known but equally delicious variation comes from the heart of Italy, the bustling and historic streets of Rome.
Gnocchi Alla Romana, a delicious dish that ditches potatoes in favor of semolina, deserves its own moment in the culinary spotlight.
Unlike its northern counterpart, Gnocchi Alla Romana is made with a rich mixture of semolina, milk, butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
The mixture is cooked until thick and smooth, then spread out to cool. Once set, the dough is cut into circles, layered in a baking dish, generously sprinkled with Pecorino Romano cheese, and baked until golden brown.
The result? A dish that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a rich, cheesy flavor.
While potato-based gnocchi originated in the colder, northern Italian regions where potatoes are a staple, Gnocchi Alla Romana reflects the flavors and traditions of the Lazio region.
Rome, with its great history and fusion of cultures, has always been a melting pot of flavors.
This dish, in its simplicity, captures the essence of Roman cuisine: rustic, flavorful, and always with a nod to the past.
The semolina gnocchi, infused with the sharpness of Parmigiano and the richness of butter, will take you on a journey through the streets of Rome! You have just to try them!
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Gnocchi alla Romana Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 Min
- Cooling Time: 1 Hour
- Cook Time: 45 Min
- Servings: 4
FOR THE GNOCCHI
- 250 g (9 oz) of semolina
- 1 liter (~4 cups) of whole milk
- 100 g (1 cup) grated Parmigiano cheese
- 2 egg yolks
- 50 g (~1/2 stick) of unsulted butter
- fine salt to taste
- nutmeg to taste
FOR THE DRESSING
- 50 g (~1/2 stick) of unsalted butter
- 40 g (~1/3 cup) of Pecorino Romano
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
Here are the kitchen tools you’d typically need to make gnocchi alla romana:
Medium to large saucepan: This is for heating the milk and then cooking the semolina.
Whisk: Essential for ensuring that the semolina doesn’t clump when added to the milk and for incorporating the butter and eggs smoothly.
Wooden spoon or spatula: Helpful for stirring the semolina mixture as it thickens.
Knife or cookie cutter: After the mixture has cooled and set, you can cut it into discs or desired shapes using a sharp knife or cookie cutter.
Grater: this recipe calls for fresh Parmigiano and Pecorino Romano cheese, so you’ll need a grater to grate them finely.
Baking dish (for final preparation): Once the gnocchi shapes are cut, they’re often arranged in a baking dish, topped with butter and cheese, and baked until golden.
Step 1) – To prepare the gnocchi alla Romana, put the milk in a saucepan over low heat with 50 g (~1/2 stick) of butter, a pinch of salt and a little nutmeg.
Step 2) – When it starts to boil, add the semolina, stirring vigorously with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming.
Cook over low heat for a few minutes until the mixture thickens.
Step 3) – When the mixture begins to pull away from the bottom, remove the pan from the heat and add the 2 egg yolks, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Then add the grated Parmigiano a little at a time, stirring until incorporated.
Step 4) – At this point, pour half of the hot mixture onto a sheet of baking paper.
Using your hands, form into a cylindrical shape. You can run your hands under cold water to prevent them from getting too hot.
Step 5) – Once you have an even cylinder, wrap it in baking paper.
Repeat the same process with the second half of the mixture and place the 2 rolls in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Step 6) – Once chilled, the dough will be firm and you can cut it with a knife into perfect slices about 1 cm (~1/3 inch) thick.
To make cutting easier, you may want to moisten the blade with water.
Step 7) – Arrange the semolina gnocchi on a buttered baking dish and sprinkle them with small pieces of butter (50 g-1/2 stick) and grated pecorino romano cheese.
Step 8) – Bake in a preheated static oven at 200°C (~390°F) for 30 minutes. If using a fan oven, bake for 20 minutes at 180°C (~350°F).
Finally turn on the oven grill and let them brown for 5 minutes. Once ready, serve your gnocchi alla romana piping hot!
How to Store Gnocchi alla Romana
Let’s explore how to store these delicious semolina gnocchi after they’re cooked, so they’re just as tasty when reheated.
First, allow the cooked Gnocchi alla Romana to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, choose an airtight container. Layer the gnocchi disks in the container, using parchment paper or plastic wrap between each layer. This separation prevents the gnocchi from sticking together, and the protective layer keeps them intact and undamaged.
Store your container in the refrigerator if you’re planning to eat the Gnocchi alla Romana within the next 2 to 3 days.
When you’re ready to enjoy your stored Gnocchi alla Romana, it’s important to reheat them properly. Gentle reheating in the oven is best.
You want to make sure the gnocchi are heated through without becoming too dry or overcooked. Add a touch of butter and extra cheese for added richness and to restore some of the freshly cooked flavor.
Can I Freeze Gnocchi alla Romana?
If you’ve made a large batch or just wish to savor them for a later occasion, freezing is an excellent preservation method.
Once you’ve cooked your Gnocchi Alla Romana, allow them to cool completely at room temperature.
Place them in containers and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
When the moment comes to savor your Gnocchi Alla Romana, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Once thawed, they can be reheated in the oven. A little extra sprinkle of cheese on top before reheating can bring back the richness of the freshly made dish.
Once thawed, Gnocchi Alla Romana should be consumed relatively quickly to enjoy its best texture and flavor. Refreezing is not recommended, as it can degrade the quality and texture of the dish.
Can I Make Gnocchi alla Romana Ahead of Time?
You can absolutely prepare gnocchi alla romana in advance, which is great for entertaining or simply making your life easier on a busy day. Here’s how you can do it:
Follow our recipe and make your fantastic semolina gnocchi.
At this point, if you’re prepping them for later, you can arrange the discs in a baking dish, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle with pecorino cheese and butter.
Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate. You can prepare them a day in advance and store them in the fridge.
If you want to store them for a more extended period, cover the baking dish with aluminum. Then place it in the freezer. They should be good for up to a month.
You can bake Gnocchi alla Romana directly from the freezer. You might need to add a few more minutes to the baking time to ensure they’re thoroughly heated.
When you’re ready to eat them, preheat your oven and bake according to our recipe, noting that cold or frozen gnocchi might require a bit more time in the oven.