"Gnocchi alla Romana" means Roman-style gnocchi or Roman Gnocchi, but they're not the same type of gnocchi you know. They're made with semolina flour and they have a round flat shape. They're typically finished in the oven with cheese to give them a crispy golden crust.
Gnocchi alla Romana, or Semolina Gnocchi, is a classic Italian comfort food and it's nowadays very common throughout all of Italy. The original recipe though, comes from Rome, hence the name, and it was a celebrative dish, served during holiday feasts and celebration dinners.
Even though its story is still a mystery, due to the ingredients used, such as butter and Parmigiano cheese, which were more typical in the north of Italy and not much in Rome.
- Semolina. Semolina is a coarse flour made from durum wheat and it's very high in gluten. It's most commonly used to make fresh eggless pasta (see my guide on how to make fresh pasta), but it can also be used to make bread, cakes, pudding, and much more. There are different textures available but the most common is the medium grind. This is what's used in most recipes.
- Milk. Milk is essential to make the semolina gnocchi dough. You can use either skim, reduced fat, or whole milk for this recipe.
- Butter. I usually use unsalted butter as there is going to be saltiness from the Parmigiano cheese. But you can also use salted or even vegetable butter if you prefer the taste.
- Parmigiano cheese. Good quality freshly grated Parmigiano cheese will make the baked gnocchi crispy and flavorful. Buy only real Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano for the best result.
How to make Gnocchi alla Romana
In a pot, pour all the milk and season with a pinch of nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. When the milk starts to simmer, slowly pour the semolina flour while whisking energetically.
Mix until the dough starts to thicken, then remove from the heat and add the butter, the egg yolks, and the Parmigiano cheese.
Pour the semolina dough on a lined baking sheet and spread it into a dense and even layer. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven.
With a round cutter of about 2.5 inch/6 cm, cut the round shapes and place them in a buttered baking dish, overlapping slightly.
In a small pan, melt the remaining butter with the sage leaves at low heat.
With a spoon, pour the sage butter over the semolina gnocchi.
Cover the Gnocchi with abundant grated Parmigiano cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes and, if needed, give it 2-3 minutes under the grill to make the crunchy golden crust.
FAQ & Tips
Semolina flour has a different texture and flavor than other flours, so I cannot recommend any substitution.
Yes, you can make them 1-3 days in advance and keep the baking dish in the fridge covered with foil. Take the dish out of the fridge at least 1 hour before baking, then follow the baking instructions in the recipe.
Yes, you can freeze them either baked or unbaked. If you freeze the baked and cooled gnocchi, thaw and reheat in the microwave, then give it a couple of minutes under the grill to make the crunchy crust. If you freeze them unbaked, thaw completely, then follow the baking instructions in the recipe.
You can do so many delicious variations of Gnocchi alla Romana. The classic is only with butter and cheese, but you can add many ingredients to the semolina dough to give them extra flavor. All these ingredients can be added directly to the semolina and mixed in before you spread it on the pan to cool down.
- Sausage. In a small pan, break the sausage into small pieces and cook until it browns. Remove the excess fat and add the sausage to the semolina.
- Spinach. In a small pan, sautè the spinach with some olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper then remove the garlic, drain the excess water and add them to the semolina. You can also mince the leaves in a food processor to mix them more evenly with the semolina.
- Bacon. Chop the bacon in small chunks and brown them in a small pan. Remove the excess fat and add to the semolina. You can also add some extra cheese (see below).
- Cheese. Add some of your favorite cheese to the semolina gnocchi, such as Gorgonzola, Gouda, Cheddar, and so on.
- Roasted Veggies. Roast the vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, bell pepper, whatever you like) in the oven with olive oil and seasonings. Chop into small pieces and add them to the semolina.
You can store leftovers in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or you can freeze leftovers for up to 3 months. Reheat in the oven to get the golden crust crispy again. If needed, add more grated Parmigiano before reheating.
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Gnocchi alla Romana (Baked Semolina Gnocchi)
For the Gnocchi
- 1 ½ cups Semolina Flour
- 4 cups Milk
- 1 cup Parmigiano cheese, grated
- 3.5 oz Butter, unsalted
- 2 Egg Yolks
- Black Pepper
- 1.4 oz Butter, salted or unsalted
- 4-5 Sage leaves, optional
- ½ cup Parmigiano cheese
- In a pot, pour all the milk and season with a pinch of nutmeg, salt and black pepper. When the milk starts to simmer, slowly pour the semolina flour while you keep mixing energetically with a whisk to avoid clumps.
- Keep mixing until the dough starts to thicken, then remove from the heat and add the butter, the egg yolks, and the Parmigiano cheese. Keep mixing with a spoon and season to taste.
- Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper, then pour the semolina dough and spread it well with the spoon until you have a dense and even layer (about ½ inch/1.5 cm thick). Let it cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 350°F /180°C.
- With a round cutter about 2.5 inch/6 cm, cut the round shapes and place them in a buttered baking dish, overlapping slightly.
- In a small pan, melt the remaining butter with the sage leaves at low heat, then pour the butter over the gnocchi and cover with a layer of Parmigiano cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes and, if needed, give it 2-3 minutes under the grill to make the crunchy golden crust.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.