Unsure what to cook for dinner tonight? Here is an idea: Gnocchi alla Romana!
These are not the traditional Italian gnocchi made with potatoes, but they are prepared with semolina flour, milk, egg yolks, a touch of nutmeg and lots of cheese. They are tender and with a very delicate flavor. The savor of these gnocchi is in the nutmeg and the cheese. I used Parmesan (obviously!) and a cave aged Gruyere cheese, which has a very distinctive flavor that does not overshadow the taste of other ingredients. I love to use Gruyere cheese, because of its savory but not overpowering taste. And it's a great melting cheese, perfect for baking!
The gnocchi alla romana is an Italian primo piatto, that you can serve before a light meat dinner (secondo piatto), or as a main dish for a more casual dinner. You can top the gnocchi with your best tomato sauce, or serve it next to a green salad. Buon Appetito!
Ingredients for 4-6 servings:
- 4 cups (32 fl oz) of milk
- 2 cups of semolina flour
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (powder or grated)
- 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup of shredded cave-aged Gruyere cheese, or other savory cheese
Preparation time: 45 minutes plus 1 hour (or more) of refrigeration time.
Step 1: In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a light boil, over medium heat. Add the semolina flour to the milk, wishing without stopping to avoid lumps from forming. Add the salt and the nutmeg.
Step 2: Cook over low heat, mixing continuously and carefully scraping the semolina from the sides and bottom of the pan, for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to pull away from the sides of pan.
Step 3: Remove from heat and incorporate the egg yolks,1 cup of Gruyere and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Save the rest of the Parmesan cheese for the end.
Step 4: Butter or oil a baking sheet large enough - I used an 11x15 in baking sheet. Pour the mixture, and flat it out as even as you can, using a wooden spoon, stir stick or the flat blade of a large knife, to about 1/4 of an inch in thickness.
Step 5: Cover with plastic wrap and let cool down for a minimum of an hour. Note: You can also prepare this the day before and store in the refrigerator for a day!
Step 6: Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Butter the bottom of a oven dish, rectangular or round. Cut the semolina mixture in as many round shapes as you can. You can use a cookie cutter or a round glass, large or small. Mine have a diameter of 2.75 inches.
Note: If you don't want to throw away the left over mixture, place all of these piece to the bottom of the dish, where nobody will see, and place all the round gnocchi on top.
Step 7: Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and butter cut in small pieces.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until nicely golden on top.