Gnocchi represents a spectrum of dumpling stye dishes depending upon where you are in Italy, an unpretentious dish traditionally considered part of the pasta course. Gnocchi alla Romana is perhaps less recognized than what many Italians identify with, that being the more well know Potato Gnocchi. Historically, the word gnocchi is said to be derived from the word nocchi meaning a knot in a piece of wood or nocca meaning nuckle, I suppose that gnocchi in some way resembled both of those. The origins of the dish are most likely Middle Eastern and can be traced as far back to the Roman period.
Gnocchi alla Romana as the name implies hails from the Lazio region, with Rome being the capital. These flat discs of polenta or semolina, bathed with butter and baked with a topping of cheese are the essence of comfort food on a cold winter’s night.
Ideal for either entertaining a crowd or an intimate dinner with someone special, Gnocchi alla Romana can be prepared ahead and baked at the last moment. The dish is straightforward and honestly requires little skill. As with anything, simplicity and the highest quality ingredients are the hallmarks here.
Assemble all of you ingredients and equipment before you get started.
A bit a attention to the stirring will result in a smooth consistency, which is essential.
This is the ideal make ahead dish for Giorno di San Valentino along with a tossed salad, bottle of Prosecco or Trento DOC and something decadent to finish off the meal.
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- 1 quart of organic whole milk
- Freshly grated nutmeg, quanta basta
- 1⅓ cup of either fine semolina or fine polenta
- 2 large organic egg yolks
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
- ¾ to 1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano
- Pinch of sea salt
- Butter a rimmed baking pan and set aside.
- Heat the milk in a medium size sauce pan along with 4 tablespoons of the butter, the grated nutmeg, and a nice pinch of sea salt; bring this to a low simmer
- Add the semolina or polenta in a slow stream, stirring the entire time to avoid any lumps. Continue to stir over medium low heat with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon for about 10 minutes or until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan.
- Transfer the cooked mixture to a glass or ceramic mixing bowl and add the egg yolks on at a time, followed by ½ cup of the grated Parmigiano - your mixture should be smooth and lump free.
- Spread the mixture onto the buttered pan and smooth using a spatula or damp fingertips to about ½ inch thick. Allow to completely cool and solidify, depending on the room temperature this is generally between 1 and 2 hours.
- Butter a glass or ceramic baking dish. Preheat the oven to 400º.
- Cut the cold semolina/polenta mixture using a 2 inch round cutter or glass. Cut the discs as close together as possible to avoid waste. Place the discs in the butter baking dish, slightly overlapping one another until you are finished. The scraps can be placed in a smaller baking dish and are perfectly wonderful.
- Dot the gnocchi with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and top with Parmigiano. The dish may be covered and refrigerated to use the next day or even frozen at this point.
- Place the baking dish into the preheated oven and bake until the top becomes crisp and the melted butter sizzles - about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Maria from She Loves Biscotti says
What a wonderful post Paula! The step by step photos are perfect! I agree, the perfect meal for Valentine’s Day.
This is absolutely one of my favourite dishes… but then again, I just love cornmeal!
Cornmeal in any form – polenta, zaletti, cakes is heaven. Such a satisfying do – ahead dish for a crowd. The butter, milk and cheese don’t hurt….
It’s been too long since I’ve whipped this up. It’s true comfort food, just the thing you yearn for on a cold winter’s eve.
I’m on the same page Frank, I often forget about this comforting dish but when I do make it I realize how wonderful it is.
Thanks for reminding me about this wonderful meal. I’ve only made them once but now I will try them again soon-a great dish for a wintry evening.
So comforting during these rainy months here Janie. A nice salad and some wine, you are all set. Thanks for stopping by…
Jeff the Chef says
Wow, these style of gnocchi look fantastic!
Thank you so much Jeff, give them a try and thanks for commenting!
Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina says
I have had gnocchi on my mind for some time now and am so delighted to read your post on gnocchi alla romana! Perfect timing for some wonderful comfort food to warm the soul during mid-winter cold days and nights. What a delicious recipe that I am so happy that you shared!
Grazie Roz I am so glad you were pleased by the post. Absolutely stick to you ribs food for these chilly evenings. Thank you for stopping by to comment…
Ciao Chow Linda says
I absolutely adore these and every time I make them, they are a big hit. I don’t know why I haven’t yet made them this winter, but now they are on my radar. Yours look so delicious.
People really do enjoy these buttery discs and what an easy way to entertain. I am glad that my post brought them back to mind.