Gnocchi alla Romana

by Sarah on February 18, 2012

almond blossom and bee, Israel

Almond blossom

Semolina is a staple in my house and is often transformed into kubbeh, homey Middle Eastern dumplings. Sometimes I even attempt hand raked couscous, rolling the tiny pellets between my palms in the ancient way. But I don’t always have the time or the patience to knead, sift, steam and roll the morning away. It might be nostalgic, grandmother’s heirloom, but when the anemones are blooming the kitchen is the last place I want to be.  Instead, give me a small pot and a wooden spoon and I’ll make a batch of gnocchi, not the tiny Italian  dumplings made with potatoes and flour but a much easier semolina version. With this recipe there is enough time for homemade cooking and the great outdoors.

wild anemones in Israel

Wild anemones in Israel, near Hir Bit Midrash

gnocchi alla romana

Gnocchi alla Romana (semolina gnocchi)

This recipe was inspired by Orna and Ella’s Cookbook (by Orna Agmon, Ella Shine and Einav Berman). They have a lovely restaurant by the same name in Tel Aviv. I also looked through The Big Book of Pasta by Beth Alon (Hebrew), to give me ideas for this recipe.

750 milk (3 cups milk)

1 cup semolina

1 teaspoon salt

Pinch of nutmeg

4 egg yolks (two egg yolks are plenty for this recipe but my son made Pavlova the night before and it was a good way to use the extra yolks)

60 grams grated parmesan

50 grams butter


100 grams blue cheese

Bring the milk to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Mix the semolina, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl. Pour the semolina into the milk in a steady stream while mixing. Continue to mix until it begins to heave like a Yellowstone mudpot, with large, churning bubbles.  Scrape the bottom to so it doesn’t burn. Lift a spoonful and flip upside down over the pot. It should cling to the spoon, plopping off only after a few seconds.

Remove from heat and add the butter, egg yolks and cheese and mix until incorporated. The batter should be thick, separating slightly from the sides of the pot, if not, heat gently for a minute or two to get the desired consistency.

Place parchment paper on a baking tray. Pour the semolina over the tray and with a spatula (a cake frosting spreader is good for this job) spread the batter onto a large rectangle about 2 cm thick. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 180⁰C (350⁰F)

When the semolina batter has cooled it is possible to cut out shapes using a ravioli or cookie cutter. I used a heart shaped cookie cutter, my modest nod towards Valentine’s Day. Place the shapes on a shallow baking dish or tray in one layer so they look like a fallen row of dominoes. Sprinkle with the blue cheese and place in the oven until golden, about 10-15 minutes. I enjoy the  gnocchi soft but bake for longer to create crust.

gnocchi alla romana with blue cheese





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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

lisaiscooking February 18, 2012 at 6:59 am

I’ve been wanting to try making homemade couscous. One of these days. In the meantime, I should try these gnocchi. They look fantastic. The golden cheese on top is a beautiful thing!


Yaelian February 18, 2012 at 7:42 am

Your picture of anemones are stunning! And the heart shaped gnocchi looks cute!


Turkey's For Life February 18, 2012 at 8:04 am

That looks really pretty – and strangely enough, I’ve just been outside to take some photos of the almond blossom in our garden. Always so lovely to see it after a long winter. :)


Sally - My Custard Pie February 18, 2012 at 10:15 am

Echoing the chorus of pretty for both the flowers and the food. I will try this recipe for my vegetarian daughter who has just discovered how much she loves gnocchi.


Eha February 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Have neve made anything quite like this before. Am fiddling with my next week’s menus ’cause want to try this soonest – even if the gnocchi may not necessarily be heartshaped :) ! And, oh yes, did stop at the anemones picture for ever so long feeling good about the day!


Joy (My Turkish Joys) February 20, 2012 at 12:45 am

The flowers and the heart-shaped gnocchi look lovely! I’m definitely ready for spring after a long cold/wet/snowy winter here in Istanbul.


5 Star Foodie February 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I love the heart shape and the presentation of these delicious gnocchi, nice!


Katherine Martinelli February 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Great recipe! I’ve never made gnocchi in this way before but it looks fab. And your photos are just gorgeous, as always! I’m hoping to get to the Judean Hills to see some almond blossoms (although I did spot one lone blooming almond tree here in Be’er Sheva!)


Miriam Kresh February 28, 2012 at 10:55 am

I’ve made semolina gnocchi, but never this attractive. Thanks for another gorgeous post, Sarah.


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