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Gnocchi alla Romana.... This dish is pure comfort food...a delight alone or as a side dish for various ragus. If you've ever had gnocchi, this will be quite familiar. This is similar, except that it uses semolina flour instead of potato. It is reminiscent of polenta as well. I like this dish in that it is such a versatile side dish. The nice part is that you can make it ahead and pop it into the oven right before dinner .Now, I like that! The gnocchi are traditionally cut in circles. They are then overlapped, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, and dotted with butter before being placed in the oven to bake. There are quite a few variations if you would like to experiment. Try adding ham,bacon,prosciutto in the semolina mixture. Sprinkle with cheese of your choice... Gruyere, Swiss, Cheddar, Jack cheese, etc. You can also make it lighter by omitting the egg and substituting water/chicken stock/vegetable stock for the milk. I like the original way...I just limit the serving amount. I decided to bake the gnocchi using 2 different formats. I made individual servings and also a casserole dish. I noticed that the two varied in presentation and consistency. The individual serving kept its shape and was more toasted than the casserole. The casserole was a bit more moist and you had to scoop it out with a spoon. It was more family oriented. Not bad, just different. We enjoyed both ways. It was a welcome change to the usual pasta, polenta, rice...
In a medium saucepan, add milk,salt and butter. Bring to simmer.Little bubbles should form on the side of the pan. Add semolina flour slowly, using a whisk until it is all used up.You will need to switch to a wooden spoon, as it will quickly thicken. Cook for an additional minute or so or until thick.
Add half of Parmesan and egg.
Stir to combine. Place hot mixture on a plastic wrap lined cookie sheet or pan. Spread the mixture to about 1/2 inch thick.Cover with a plastic wrap let cool and refrigerate till cooled. I just leave it in the fridge until I clean my work space and then take them out and cut them. Using a 1 1/2 in round cutter, cut out gnocchi circles.With the remining scraps, you can knead them a bit roll to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out circles and continue the process till all dough is used up. At this point you may overlap the gnocchi circles in a buttered casserole dish or place on a parchment lined cookie sheet for individual servings, 4-5 circles in a line. Dot with about 1 TBS butter sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Sprinkle Swiss cheese also, if you like. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.