Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)

January 19, 2021

Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)

Laura, my cousin-in-law, is sort of obsessed with my Semolina Gnocchi (aka gnocchi alla romana.) I made them for her, her husband (i.e., my cousin Mark), and their children once they came over for dinner like two years ago and apparently they’ve been on her mind ever since.
I gave her the recipe (THIS recipe, word for word) but she swears that the gnocchi she makes are good but do not come even close to mine.
I’m quite confident that it has only to do with the fact that memories are always better than reality — this recipe is so simple and easy that it’s almost impossible to mess up. It’s actually so straightforward that after making it a few times, you won't need the recipe at all.
Just seven ingredients — each one a common staple, except perhaps for the semolina flour — are all you need to whip up this classic Italian main dish.

Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)
Gnocchi alla romana has an amazing slightly crispy outside and a soft, pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth texture on the inside. The semolina disks hold their shape but at the same they almost melt into each other.
Simple but elegant Italian comfort food that kids, grown-ups, actually everybody loves.

Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)
The active cooking on the stovetop takes about 10 minutes but it requires quite an arm workout — you’ll be stirring vigorously a very thick mixture — but it’s worth the effort. Ask for help if you find it overwhelming.
The semolina is then spread into a thin layer on lined sheet pan, allowed to cool, and then cut into disks.
The disks are layered in a baking dish, topped with Parmesan cheese and butter and popped into the oven until golden brown and delicious.
This is good stuff my friends. Very good stuff. So good you won’t even believe it.

Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)
Semolina Gnocchi (Gnocchi alla Romana)                                                                                 Print this recipe!

Serves 6

4 cups (1 liter / 34 fl. oz) milk
1 heaping teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 ½ cups (250 gr / 8.8 oz) semolina flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
2 egg yolks
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 tablespoons butter, divided


Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large saucepan bring milk, salt, and nutmeg to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
Once it’s simmering turn the heat down to low and slowly whisk in the semolina flour, making sure that no lumps form.
Cook, whisking constantly using a wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to form a loose-ish mass and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two, rapidly whisk in egg yolks (so they don’t have time to cook), ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese, and 1 tablespoon of butter until fully incorporated.
Spoon the semolina mixture onto the prepared sheet pan, spreading it with a spatula into an even layer about ½-inch thick (lightly wet the spatula first it will not stick to the dough and will help smoothing the surface of the mixture.)
Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and let cool completely in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes. You can leave it for even longer – a few more hours or overnight (this can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and place a rack in the middle. Grease the bottom and sides of a baking dish (roughly 2 quarts in capacity) with butter. Set aside.
Using a small cookie cutter (or a glass with a narrow mouth) cut the semolina into disks, dipping the biscuit cutter into water continuously to prevent sticking.
Layer the semolina disks into the greased baking dish, overlapping the disks slightly with each row (resembling roof shingles.)
Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
Semolina gnocchi can be prepped ahead up this stage and stored, covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Otherwise, bake uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a light golden crust is formed. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Nutrition facts

One serving yield 375 calories, 17 grams of fat, 40 grams of carbs, 16 grams of protein.


  1. Looks great! What would your recommend as the main course with this? Not good at putting meals together

    1. It can be a great side for roasted or grilled meat. But if you want to keep the vegetarian you can cook up some veggies or make a salad to go with.
      I like to serve it with greens such as roasted broccoli or baked spinach!