I’m not sure if these originated in Rome, but what distinguishes them from traditional gnocchi is that they do not contain potato, but semolina. I usually serve this as a side dish – it is easy and really delicious. It is vital that you get the seasoning right, otherwise it is bland. You’ll see recipes with varying quantities of butter, cheese, or milk, but the core ingredients are always the same. I’ve also seen these served with a mushroom fricassee on top, or with a plain Napolitano tomato sauce.
300g fine semolina
1 litre milk
100g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
3 egg yolks
100g grated Parmesan
1. In a pot on medium heat, place the milk, nutmeg, some ground pepper and pinch of salt. Bring it to the boil, reduce heat, then add the semolina in a stream, whisking constantly or it will get lumpy. It will thicken pretty much immediately. Continue to whisk for a few minutes them remove from heat.
2. After a couple of minutes, add about half the cheese and the butter and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon. At this point taste for seasoning, and add more salt if required. Add the egg yolks and stir thoroughly.
3. Line a baking tray with baking paper and smooth out the semolina in an even layer. Allow to cool.
4. Using a round cutter (4-5cm) cut into discs. Grease a baking dish with butter, layer the discs and top with remaining parmesan. If you are preparing this ahead, you can cover the dish with cling wrap and put it in the fridge at this point until ready to cook. Otherwise put it in a 200 degree oven for about 20 minutes till a little golden and serve.