Quite different from the traditional potato gnocchi that many are used to, these Roman-style gnocchi are made from semolina flour, cooked in milk, and considerably easier to make than rolling gnocchi off the tines of a fork.
These can be prepared well in advance, only needing to brown in the oven before serving, which makes this such an easy option for when you have guests. If you want to make this more substantial, you can add a béchamel sauce over the top of these before they go in the oven. This recipe is based on one in Pellegrino Artusi's 1891 cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well. —Emiko
4 as a side dish
(160 grams) fine semolina flour
(500 milliliters) milk
(40 grams) good melting cheese such as Gruyère or asiago, grated or diced
(50 grams) butter, diced
(40 grams or about a handful) grated Parmesan cheese
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the flour and a pinch of salt until well combined. Slowly add the milk until you have a smooth mixture, then add the cheese. Place the mixture in a medium saucepan (1-liter capacity) and, over medium heat, stir constantly until you obtain a very thick mixture, like thick porridge or oatmeal, about 5 minutes.
Turn the mixture out onto a cookie tray sprayed or sprinkled with some water and, with wet hands (or a wet spatula), pat the mixture down to a thickness of about 1 centimeter using the palm of your hand. Allow to cool completely.
Grease an ovenproof casserole pan with 1/3 of the butter and preheat the oven to 390º F/200º C. With a 2 inch (5 centimeter) round cookie cutter (or even a glass), cut out the mixture into rounds (it helps if you have a dish of water to dip the cutter into after each round). Place the gnocchi in rows, slightly overlapping, in the prepared pan. Tuck a few cubes of butter between the gnocchi, and top with the rest of the butter and the Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.