Italian cuisine is renowned for its rich history and diverse flavors, and one dish that beautifully encapsulates this culinary heritage is Gnocchi alla Romana. Unlike the more familiar potato-based gnocchi, Gnocchi alla Romana is crafted from semolina flour, creating a delightful, melt-in-your-mouth experience. This dish is a comforting classic, hailing from the heart of Rome, and it’s sure to transport your taste buds to the cobblestone streets of the Eternal City. So, roll up your sleeves, because today, we’re diving into the world of Italian Gnocchi alla Romana.
Gnocchi, in various forms, have been cherished in Italy for centuries. The word “gnocchi” is derived from the Italian word “nocca,” meaning “knuckle” or “knot,” perhaps alluding to the gnocchi’s small, round shape. While potato gnocchi are well-known today, Gnocchi alla Romana is an older, equally beloved variation. Its roots can be traced back to ancient Rome, where semolina was used to create this delectable dish.
Preparing the Semolina Dough
- Begin by pouring the whole milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place it over medium heat and bring it to a gentle simmer. Be sure not to let it boil.
- Slowly add the semolina flour to the simmering milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens and pulls away from the sides of the pan. This should take about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Mix until everything is well combined, and the dough becomes smooth and uniform.
- Allow the semolina mixture to cool slightly before incorporating the egg yolk. Stir vigorously to ensure it’s fully integrated.
Shaping and Cutting the Gnocchi
- Transfer the semolina dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Knead it briefly to form a smooth, pliable ball.
- Roll out the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle.
- Using a round cookie cutter or glass, cut out individual gnocchi circles from the dough.
- Place the gnocchi circles on a baking dish lined with buttered parchment paper, ensuring they don’t touch each other.
Baking the Gnocchi
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Before baking, you can brush the tops of the gnocchi with a bit of melted butter for a golden finish.
- Bake the Gnocchi alla Romana in the preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes or until they turn lightly golden on top and are firm to the touch.
- Once baked, remove the Gnocchi alla Romana from the oven and let them cool slightly. They will firm up a bit more as they cool.
- Serve your delectable gnocchi warm, garnished with extra grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.
Enjoying the Italian Delight
Gnocchi alla Romana is a classic Italian dish that embodies comfort and sophistication. These semolina gnocchi are tender yet toothsome, with a delightful creaminess from the milk and Parmesan. The hint of nutmeg adds a warm, aromatic note, making each bite a heavenly experience.
Whether served as an appetizer or a main course, this dish is sure to transport your taste buds to the heart of Rome. So, embrace the history and flavors of Italy in your own kitchen with this timeless recipe for Gnocchi alla Romana. Buon appetito!