Golden circles of soft Gnocchi alla Romana are lightly buttered and baked with Parmesan, for a meltingly scrumptious side dish that boasts perfectly crispy edges. Easy to make!
Classic Baked Semolina Gnocchi
If you’re a fan of gnocchi (raises hand) you may be most familiar with the little potato gnocchi that work so well with creamy sauces (for instance, Creamy Parmesan Gnocchi with Shrimp, Gnocchi and Bacon Casserole, and Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup, just to name a few). But did you know there are also rolled wheat flour gnocchi? You do now!
These savory little rounds are incredibly easy to mix and bake, and their rich flavor comes from a simple combination of semolina, egg yolks, milk, and butter. So good!
Simply dressed with sage and Parmesan cheese, this is comfort food at its best, you guys. So let’s roll up those sleeves, and get ready to make gnocchi!
How Many Different Kinds of Gnocchi Are There?
If the wheels in your head are turning and you’re seeing whole new worlds of gnocchi opening up… you’re right on the money, because there’s no shortage of amazing gnocchi varieties out there. Potato gnocchi, semolina gnocchi, gnocchi made mostly of cheese (yum), gnocchi made with stale bread, choux pastry gnocchi – seriously, there’s so much to explore! And this easy gnocchi alla Romana is the perfect place to begin, if I do say so myself.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
Let’s start by listing the ingredients in detail. Each item is so simple and wholesome! That’s another thing to love here – gnocchi alla Romana is a hearty, homestyle dish you can feel great about serving.
For the Gnocchi
- Semolina Flour: Semolina flour is available in many grocery stores, but if you can’t find it in your area, you can also source it online.
- Milk: Whole milk gives the best flavor.
- Parmesan: Plenty of Parmesan cheese makes the gnocchi so savory and full of umami goodness.
- Egg Yolks: Just the yolks are needed here – but you can always use the whites in a breakfast scramble or other recipe!
- Butter: I recommend regular butter, not substitutes, but you can use margarine or other vegan butters as needed.
- Nutmeg: No worries, your gnocchi won’t taste like gingerbread! A little nutmeg brings out the flavor in cheesy dishes like this, without tasting “sweet.”
- Parmesan Cheese: A bit more parm over the gnocchi before baking is just right for adding a crispy finish.
- Butter: To keep the gnocchi from becoming dry as they bake.
- Fresh Sage: Fresh sage leaves, toasted, are traditional and utterly delicious.
Is Semolina Flour the Same as Wheat Flour?
Although semolina is a type of wheat flour, it’s very different from ordinary all-purpose flour. Interestingly, its slightly coarse texture and bright yellow color make it look more like cornmeal! It’s fantastic for making flavorful, satisfying pizza crusts, pasta, and – you guessed it – gnocchi.
How to Make Gnocchi alla Romana
One thing I love about this recipe is that the gnocchi are so easy to make, and the dough is so simple. You don’t need any special techniques or equipment for this. Just a cookie cutter and a little bit of time.
- Cook the Semolina Flour in Milk and Butter. First, heat the milk and butter on the stove until bubbles begin to form at the edges of the saucepan, but the mixture is not boiling. Take the saucepan off of the heat, and whisk in the semolina. You will want to whisk constantly so it doesn’t get lumpy. Return the saucepan to the heat, and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, lowering the heat as needed to keep the mixture from scorching, and stirring often. Once the mixture is thick and pulling away from the sides of the saucepan, take it off the heat again.
- Mix in the Remaining Gnocchi Ingredients. Working off of the heat, stir the parmesan cheese and seasonings into the semolina, until they are fully combined. Lastly, add the egg yolks. Mix thoroughly. You may need a hand mixer at this point to get the mixture really incorporated and smooth.
- Let the Gnocchi Dough Cool. With the gnocchi batter complete, it’s time to pour it out and let it cool down. Line a small baking sheet or tray (about 8×12) with foil, and coat with a small amount of melted butter. Pour the gnocchi dough on top, and flatten it out with a spatula or spoon. Cover the top with foil or parchment, and let it cool completely. It will firm up as it cools.
- Cut Out the Gnocchi and Place in the Baking Dish. Once the mixture is cool, preheat the oven to 400°F, and butter a medium-sized shallow baking dish. Using a cookie cutter, cut out discs of the semolina dough. Arrange them as you go in the baking dish, with their edges overlapping slightly.
- Bake! Drizzle the gnocchi with the last bit of melted butter, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes.
- Toast the Sage. While the gnocchi bakes, heat a spoonful of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once it’s very hot (shimmering), drop in the fresh sage leaves and let them crisp up for a few seconds. Carefully remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon, and set them aside on a clean paper-towel-lined saucer to cool.
- Enjoy! Serve the finished gnocchi hot, topped with toasted sage leaves.
Tips for Success
So there you have it – classic gnocchi alla Romana. I also have a few additional tips I’d like to share about this recipe, so read on, and happy cooking! You’re going to love this easy, flavor-packed Italian favorite.
- Stirring the Dough: It can take some time for the dough to thicken, and you really do need to stir it the whole time. This can be something of an arm workout! It’s helpful to have a friend or family member on hand who can take a turn with the stirring, if need be.
- Cutting the Gnocchi: If you prefer, you can pour out the semolina dough carefully onto a piece of parchment, and use the parchment to shape it into a log. Let the log cool, and slice into rounds. This method is slightly trickier because you don’t want to burn your hands! But it’s also efficient, because you won’t have scraps of leftover dough to re-form and cut.
- Use the Scraps: If you do use a biscuit or cookie cutter, what should you do with the scraps? Well, if you aren’t too concerned about having all of your gnocchi identical, you can simply cut the scraps into smallish pieces and bake them right along with the round gnocchi. Alternatively, try squishing the scraps back together (they may not hold very well) to cut out more circles. Finally, you can just roll the scraps into little balls or ovals, store them in the fridge, and fry them up in butter later, similar to potato gnocchi.
- Make in Advance: If you would like to serve this at a later date, you can always make and assemble the gnocchi dish without baking it. Instead, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and store it in the fridge for up to 2 days. Bake as directed when you’re ready to serve, adding a few more minutes to the bake time if needed.
Gnocchi alla Romana makes a great starter for a special meal, or it can be part of a more casual dinner. You can serve it just as it is, or add your favorite sauce – creamy white sauce, Alfredo sauce, meat sauce, or a pan sauce from your main course. Speaking of main courses, here are just a few that work well with these cheesy gnocchi:
- Sun Dried Tomato Chicken: Who could resist these tender chicken thighs, cooked in a creamy sauce with spinach, sun-dried tomato, and herbs? Sun Dried Tomato Chicken is an easy skillet dish that cooks up in about half an hour.
- Short Ribs: These are often served with mashed potatoes, but Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs with red wine and garlic also work beautifully with gnocchi alla Romana. Talk about a feast!
- Soup: Serve up your dish of gnocchi with a wide bowl of Pasta Fagioli for a light Italian lunch that’ll leave you satisfied. This easy-to-make soup features Italian sausage, tomatoes, herbs, beans, and macaroni.
Storing and Reheating
- This dish can be covered tightly and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
- Reheat in the oven at 400°F until heated through and re-crisped.
Can I Freeze Gnocchi alla Romana?
Sure! You can freeze the gnocchi before you bake them, or after baking, if you want to keep your leftovers longer. Here’s how:
- To freeze unbaked gnocchi, assemble the dish, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and then wrap the entire dish in a generous layer of foil. Mark with the date, and freeze for 3 months or so. Thaw in the refrigerator before baking as directed in the recipe.
- To freeze cooked gnocchi, just pop the cooled leftovers into an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Gnocchi Alla Romana
For the Gnocchi
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- Fresh sage
- Place the milk and butter in a large saucepan, and heat until bubbles begin to form at the edges of the saucepan.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and add the semolina flour, stirring constantly to avoid lumps from forming. Return the saucepan to medium heat, and continue whisking until the mixture thickens and begins to separate from the edges of the saucepan, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Again remove the pan from the heat. Add the parmesan, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Stir to fully combine, and then add in the egg yolks. Mix well. You can use a handheld mixer to get the mixture incorporated and smooth.
- Line a small baking sheet (about 8×12) with foil, and coat with a small amount of melted butter. Pour the gnocchi mixture into the baking sheet, and flatten it out with a spoon. Cover the top with foil or parchment to keep it from drying out.
- Let the gnocchi mixture cool completely.
- Once the mixture is cool, preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a cookie cutter to cut out discs of the semolina dough. Arrange these in rows in a buttered baking dish, overlapping them slightly.
- Drizzle the gnocchi with melted butter and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven until golden and crisp. While the gnocchi bakes, lightly toast some sage in a buttered skillet.
- Serve the gnocchi hot, topped with toasted sage.