Semolina Gnocchi Roll with Broccoli and Mozzarella

The first time I tasted semolina gnocchi I was amazed that something as ordinary as semolina could be turned into such an irresistible dish. I find it perfect to serve if I have vegetarian friends to supper. A tomato salad or just a bowl of small cherry tomatoes goes well.

Ingredients

  • 600 ml/1 pint milk
  • 100 g/4 oz fine semolina
  • 25 g/1 oz butter
  • 75 g/3 oz mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ nutmeg, grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 450 g/1 lb broccoli, with plenty of head
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150-175 g/5-6 oz mozzarella cheese
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt
  • black pepper

Method

Put the milk and semolina in a heavy saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Simmer, still stirring, for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, grated cheese, nutmeg and egg yolks. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Smear a Swiss roll tin or baking sheet (about 23 x 33 cm/9 x 13 in) lightly with oil and spread the gnocchi mixture evenly all over. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge for half an hour or more.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic and chop finely. Trim just the base of the stalk off the broccoli. Cut off the thick part of the stalk, peel it and then chop into very small pieces, with the head of the broccoli. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring frequently, for 7-8 minutes. Then add the garlic and continue to stir over the heat for another 2 minutes or until the broccoli is just cooked but still crunchy. Season with a little salt and black pepper and leave on one side.

Slice the mozzarella thinly. Spread the broccoli all over the chilled gnocchi mixture and arrange three-quarters of the mozzarella on top. Then, using your fingers, carefully and loosely roll up the gnocchi mixture like a Swiss roll, enclosing the broccoli. Using a wide spatula and the palms of your hands, transfer the roll to an oiled shallow ovenproof dish — don’t worry if it cracks a bit, you can just press it together again. Put the remaining slices of mozzarella on top and then sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese generously over the whole roll. Keep in the fridge until ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/gas mark 9. Cook the roll at the top of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until a rich golden brown.

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