As mentioned before on this blog, I love gnocchi: light, fluffy, potato dumplings smothered in my favourite gorgonzola sauce. But a few days ago I discovered a new culinary gem: ROMAN gnocchi.
Never heard of it before? Me neither! It featured in one of my favourite cookbooks “The Food of the Mediterranean” by Murdoch Books (it’s a really thick book and I haven’t even scratched the surface of more than 250 fantastic recipes): not made with potatoes at all, but rather with semolina, milk, egg yolks and parmesan cheese, then smothered in a butter and cream sauce, topped with more pecorino cheese, and baked untill golden and bubbly. Sounds almost like a potato gratin. But believe me, this is something you have got to try!
The texture is very similar to regular potato gnocchi, except that the shape is different, and I think it is much easier to make. The results are almost infallible.
I must admit that a picture cannot do justice to the taste and smell of this wonderfully rich and fluffy side dish. But once you try it, you’ll be hooked. Use you favourite strong/sharp cheese, I’ve tried it with parmesan, pecorino, grana padano, gruyère and even an extra mature cheddar – all of them work really well!
Ingredients for gnocchi:
45 g butter, melted
1/3 cup (35 g) grated parmesan cheese (or pecorino/grana padano/gruyère/extra mature cheddar)
3 egg yolks
1 litre milk
pinch of ground nutmeg
200 g (1 and 2/3 cup) semolina flour
salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
- Line a 30 x 25 cm baking tin (or Swiss roll tin) with baking paper.
- Beat together butter, parmesan and egg yolks and season lightly. Set aside.
- Heat the milk in a large saucepan. Add the nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper. When the milk is just boiling, pour in semolina while stirring. Reduce heat and continue to cook while stirring untill mixture pulls away from the side of the pan (takes about 5-10 minutes).
- Remove from heat, beat in egg yolk mixture untill smooth, then pour into baking tin. Smooth the surface to an even thickness, using a knife dipped in cold water. Set aside to cool.
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease a shallow 25 x 18 cm baking dish.
- Lift the semolina slab out of the tin and peel off the baking paper. Cut semolina into circles, using a 4 cm cookie cutter or small cup dipped in cold water. Arrange the circles, slightly overlapping, in the greased casserole.
Ingredients for sauce and topping:
45 g butter, melted
80 ml (1/3 cup) cream or double cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Blend together the butter and cream and pour over the gnocchi. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or untill golden. Serve at once.
Tip: The gnocchi can be prepared a day or 2 in advance, wrapped and stored in the fridge in the slab form or in circles. Assembling and baking to be done just before serving.
Optional: Sprinkle with chopped chives just after baking.