It feels good to cook something that’s been on your mind and in your heart, even if you end up eating alone. Gnocchi alla romana carries lots of memories: from Carla teaching it to me 20 years ago, to making it with Gianni and Giorgio on their Pittsburgh visits, to impressing dinner guests who hadn’t ever tried it. Rather than look up recipes online, I went back to my handwritten notes for the recipe Carla once recited:
Gnocchi alla romana
1 liter of milk
250 grams of semolina
a pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
parmigiano, butter and nutmeg
Bring the milk to a boil and slowly add a stream of the semolina and the salt, stirring constantly. Cook it for about 10 minutes and remove from heat. Once cooled slightly, add the two beaten egg yolks, a bit of nutmeg and some parmigiano. Using a wet hand or a spatula, spread the semolina out onto a dishcloth (or silpat) and let cool completely. Using a glass, cut circles into the dough and layer them in a buttered baking dish. Bring together all the dough remnants, spread again and cut some more circles. Add small bits of butter and more cheese (I used microzested Gruyere but dreamed of fontina) and bake at 375 until browned … or not if you get impatient. LOL.
These are light, tasty, and IMHO, far more delicious than the more popular gnocchi di patate. The photo can’t do it justice. Lots of variations a theme exist with these. Traditionally served with fontina, you can also eat them with mushrooms or stewed meats, like polenta. You could add small pieces of verdura or speck in them, and serve them with herbed butter. Just about anything pairs well with semolina.
After grating the nutmeg, I was struck by the beauty of its internal patterns:
Perhaps the photo here too doesn’t do the pattern justice. Freshly ground nutmeg is so far superior to the stuff that comes in a jar.