Make Ahead

Gnocchi alla Romana (Baked Semolina Gnocchi)

March 17, 2015
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4 as a side dish
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 cup (160 grams) fine semolina flour
  • Salt
  • 2 cups (500 milliliters) milk
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) good melting cheese such as Gruyère or asiago, grated or diced
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) butter, diced
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams or about a handful) grated Parmesan cheese
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alisa Loughlin
    Alisa Loughlin
  • Anthony Ramos
    Anthony Ramos
  • Melinda Abbott
    Melinda Abbott
  • Diana Zahuranec
    Diana Zahuranec
  • Caroline Tobias
    Caroline Tobias

24 Reviews

Alisa L. October 9, 2019
This did not go well for me. The whole thing went in the trash at the cutting into circle stage. I won't try again because I have no idea went wrong.
Anthony R. February 23, 2016
Would it be possible to make this out of the same potato dough used to make the traditional potato gnocchi? I don't handle most wheats well. Thank you1
Emiko February 23, 2016
Hello! I've never tried it and the consistency won't be the same as being able to cut out the shapes. But one recipe that you might like that is similar is gnocchi alla sorrentina -- they're baked gnocchi with mozzarella and tomato. I have a recipe here:
Anthony R. February 23, 2016
I'll have to take a look and give it a try. Thanks a lot!
Melinda A. June 26, 2015
I am making this recipe for the second time and noticed the comments below. I will tell you that I have trouble using my American recipes in Italy and Italian recipes in the US. My sister sent me a blog by Firenza mom which helped me modify dry to liquid ingredients after understanding about the flour moisture issue. Not sure if this is some of the problem as semolina flour may not hold as much moisture. I am living in Italy, and didn't deviate from the recipe. This will be one of my go-to recipes. I did add a béchamel sauce.
Diana Z. April 27, 2015
I read over all the comments and looks like I have a similar problem to others! I live in Italy so my semolina was the right type to make this. I cooked it up nice and thick, had no trouble spreading once I wet my hands, and let it sit all day (did it in the morning for dinner that evening), so it was definitely well-set. The shapes came out sort of all right. But once it went in the oven, all the shapes melted into each other! It was like I baked one big sheet. What's the secret to this recipe? Where did I go wrong? I also looked up several Italian recipes to compare, and the ratio of liquid to semolina is all basically the same, though many use 2 eggs per 250 gr semolina.
Emiko April 27, 2015
This is becoming a mystery for me! This is based on the most traditional recipe for gnocchi alla romana, the one Italians have been making diligently from their Artusi cookbooks for 120 years! It's one that I've made many, many times and always with good (and more importantly, the same) results. So I'm trying to work out what's going wrong here. I also looked at other 'American' recipes - and they are all much of a muchness; if anything using more milk (3 or even 4 cups milk) to 1 cup semolina rather than a difference in eggs-semolina ratio. Or some recipes use just yolks of eggs (but for example, Mario Batali uses 4 yolks for this quantity of semolina, so that shouldn't change the egg-ratio much).
Diana Z. April 28, 2015
It almost worked! It seemed like the bottom of the semolina, once spread in the pan, was the problem part, as though I sprinkled too much water on the pan to keep it from sticking. Maybe the next time you make them you could take a picture of each step? So people can compare to what they're doing. :) It's got to be in the technique and not the ingredients!
Steven R. April 19, 2015
Caroline T. April 13, 2015
I'm curious how sticky the dough should be just before you cut it. Mine is sticky to the point where if I touch it, pieces come off with your finger. There's no way I can use a cookie cutter - it's practically liquid. Haven't cooked it yet, but am about to so we'll see. Can you give me a texture to compare it to?
Emiko April 14, 2015
In the instructions (step 1) I describe the right consistency as that of thick oatmeal. So a little liquid it should be, when it's in the pot. Then when you lay it out to cool on the tray (hands damp with water help as yes it is a little bit sticky), it should firm up (similar to when preparing polenta this way). Then you can cut it (maybe have a small dish of water on hand that you can dip the cookie cutter into - or slice into squares).
Caroline T. April 14, 2015
It never seemed to firm up for me - would you recommend using less milk or more semolina flour? Thank you!
MLRadin December 14, 2015
You are not cooking the semolina long enough. The dough should be almost stiff on the stove. If you are not sure, place a spoonful in the fridge to quickly cool. It should firm up like tofu. Remember, liquid absorption will vary depending on the humidity, etc. Btw, use a damp knife pr cookie cutter to slice the gnocchi, cleaning after each cut. Triangles are neater than using a cutter!
Brian D. April 11, 2015
Mine also were way too soft. Could not cut them into rounds or squares. Complete mush, even after going in the fridge. Should I use more flour or less milk perhaps?
Emiko April 14, 2015
No need for changing the proportions (this is how Italians have been making this dish for at least 120 years!), I would tip it back into a saucepan and cook a little longer but it shouldn't need too much longer. I'm curious if it's the type of semolina that might be causing the problems -- I always use an Italian made fine semolina.
Brian D. April 14, 2015
I realize I used two jumbo eggs - probably contributing to the softness problem. What size eggs do you use in this recipe? As for the semolina, I used Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour, the only one I could find in my local supermarket.
Caroline T. April 14, 2015
Brian, I used the same flour and jumbo eggs. Emiko, I cooked it for at least 10 minutes, maybe even a few more because I was worried it was so loose. Thoughts? Thanks!
Emiko April 15, 2015
Ah, that might be it? I used medium eggs. Will now make sure to specify that in the ingredients. Also I found this info on Bob's Red Mill Semolina Flour - it's still not clear to me (not having seen it in person) but it sounds like it's a little coarser. I wonder if whizzing it up in a food processor before using would help?
Ellen G. April 6, 2015
Another question, in step one does "add the cheese" exclude the parmesan?
Emiko April 8, 2015
Yes, good question! It does mean just the melting cheese. Save the Parmesan for last step!
Ellen G. April 5, 2015
Tried to make this yesterday, and the flavor was good, but I couldn't get the nice circles. It was too sticky. Does "cool completely" mean in the refrigerator? I cooled to room temperature. Is that why I had trouble with it? Also couldn't get it to brown on top until I put it in the broiler.
Emiko April 8, 2015
Cooling to room temp is just fine. One thing that could have helped is to dip your cutter into water before cutting. You can also simply cut this with a sharp knife into squares instead of circles (perhaps the cutter wasn't very sharp?) and again, if you find it's too sticky, a knife wet with cold water helps.
tortellini March 20, 2015
What would you recomend serving with them? A tomato sauce? Or are they just served by themselves?
Emiko March 21, 2015
They are usually served just like this as a side or a starter! As mentioned in the notes, you could add a bechamel sauce to it before going in the oven to make it a bit more substantial.