Gnocchi alla Romana – Ottolenghi


Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 18 minutes

Serves: Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main

When you hear “gnocchi”, you automatically think of the classic type of gnocchi or “gnocco” as Italians say, which are dumplings often made from mashed potatoes or ricotta. But before potatoes and corn for polenta came to Europe from the Americas, Romans made custardy dumplings from semolina flour : « Gnocchi alla romana » or  « Roman Style gnocchi », also known as « Semolina Gnocchi ». They are made with semolina flour, parmesan cheese, milk, and butter. But unlike potato gnocchi, these are baked, not boiled. 

Gnocchi Alla Romana it’s a delicious traditional Italian dish, rich but very light. They have a cheesy, soft and buttery texture in the inside and a slightly crispy crust outside.

What do you need to make the gnocchi alla romana ? 

The recipe is from one of my favourite books « Simple – Ottolenghi », the ingredients are simple nothing complicated.

Whole milk 

Egg  : you’ll need only the yolk.

Semolina : which is a coarse flour made from durum wheat. For this recipe you can use either fine or coarse semolina. But i really advice you to use the fine one.

 Butter : ottolenghi uses unsalted butter and adds a teaspoon of salt.

Parmesan as the traditional version requires. And some matured cheddar to sprinkle on the top, you can substitute it with any cheese you love, Gruyère, parmesan …

For the seasoning you’ll need salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of finely grated nutmeg.

How to make them ?

Gnocchi alla Romana can be prepared ahead and baked at the last moment.  

First put the milk and the butter on a medium saucepan with salt and a good grind of black pepper. Place on a medium high flame until the butter has melted and the milk is simmering. Then add the semolina, egg yolks, nutmeg and parmesan out of the heat, whisck until everything is well combined. Put it back on the heat, and continue whisking for 3-4 minutes until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Leave to cool before you make two logs about 38cm long and 4cm wide. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut each log into 1-1/2 cm thick slices. Arrange them in slightly overlapping rows on a large oven dish, sprinkle with extra cheese and bake for 15 minutes. Then grill for 3 minutes to get a nice golden brown crisp crust. Leave to rest 5 minutes before serving it.

You can serve gnocchi alla Romane on its own as a main course with some fresh salad with a simple vinaigrette dressing or as side dish for your meat, like this amazing meatballs with tomato sauce.

They are absolutely amazing and all I can say it’s a must try if you have never had them before.

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Gnocchi alla Romana - Ottolenghi

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 18 minutes
  • Total time: 25 minutes
  • Serves: Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main

2 hours in the fridge

Ingredients :

  • 80 g unsalted butter
  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 250 g semolina , either fine or coarse
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, finely grated
  • 100 g parmesan , finely grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40 g mature cheddar , finely grated to sprinkle on the top
  • salt and black pepper

Method :

  • 1)

    Put the butter and the milk into a medium saucepan with 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper.



  • 2)

    Place on a medium high heat. Once the butter has melted and the milk simmering, remove from the heat and whisk in the semolina, nutmeg, parmesan and the egg yolks until smooth and combined.



  • 3)

    Return to the heat and whisk continuously until thickened. Continue to stir 3-4 minute, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan.



    Set aside to cool for 10 – 15 minutes , don’t leave it for longer, it’ll set too much and break a little when rolled.


  • 4)

    Lay two large pieces of cling film on your work surface, about 30*40 cm, and spoon half the mixture on to each piece. Roll to form 2 sausages, each about 4cm wide about 38cm long, and keep in the fridge for at least 2 hours, until set.



  • 5)

    Preheat the oven to 180C fan.

    remove and discard the cling film, and cut each sausage into round slices 1-1/2cm thick. Arrange the slices in a shallow baking dish, about 23*33cm, in rows that slightly overlap.



  • 6)

    Sprinkle with cheddar or any other cheese that you like.



    And bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Turn the oven to its highest grill setting and place the gnocchi about 10cm beneath the heat. Grill 2-3 minutes, until the top is golden brown, set aside 5 minutes before serving.



  • 7)

    Enjoy !!


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