Semolina Gnocchi

Gnocchi di Semolella

This is a lunchtime dish, served as a first course and followed by a light dish such as poached fish with salad. Also known as Gnocchi alla Romana, this is a very old and traditional recipe from Rome and the Lazio. Sometimes two egg yolks are blended into the semolina when you have removed it from the heat - this makes for a much richer dish. Although it is now considered very much a part of the Roman food scene, many gastronomical experts claim that it originally came from Piedmont.


  • pints (750 ml) milk
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 4 oz (100 g) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz (225 g) semolina, sifted once
  • 3 oz (75 g) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 heaped tablespoon grated Gruyère or Emmenthal cheese


Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C).

Bring the milk to the boil, then stir in the salt and 1 tablespoon butter. Let the semolina rain lightly into the boiling milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan.

Pour the hot semolina out onto 2 flat platters or trays, or straight on to a work-surface. Smooth it all out with a knife to a thickness of ¼ inch (5 mm), and cut into equal-sized circles with an upturned wine glass or pastry cutter.

Butter an ovenproof dish thoroughly and lay across the bottom the rough bits left over from cutting out the circles. Melt the remaining 4 oz (100 g) butter without browning. Trickle a little melted butter on the semolina in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover with a layer of overlapping semolina circles, then more butter and Parmesan. Continue in this way until you have used up all the ingredients in layers. Sprinkle the top with the grated Gruyère or Emmenthal and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is well browned but not burnt. Serve at once, directly from the dish.