Roman style gnocchi are one of the representative dishes of the Roman cuisine and you can taste them in almost every restaurants in Rome. Prepared with a few simple ingredients, gnocchi alla romana are a real comfort food that is extremely easy and quick to prepare!
Although they are called “gnocchi”, gnocchi alla romana are totally different from classic gnocchi in terms of the dough and the cooking and shape. In fact, roman style gnocchi are made with semolina, are cooked directly in the oven and are recognizable by their classic disc shape.
Although they are considered a cornerstone of Roman cuisine, there is much controversy regarding the origins of this dish.
Some believe that, in fact, gnocchi alla romana originated in northern Italy, particularly Piedmont. This controversy stems from the use of two ingredients that have little to do with the typical Roman ones, namely butter and Parmesan cheese, both of which are widely used in the cuisine of northern Italy.
Others even claim that the name “gnocchi alla romana” is the result of a transcription error of the true wording “gnocchi alla romena” thus placing the origin of the dish in Romania.
There are several historical testimonies that, instead, place the origin of this recipe in Rome.
The first one is by the writer and gastronome Pellegrino Artusi who in his book La Scienza in cucina e l’arte del mangiar bene (1891) inserts this recipe as one of the 7 Roman dishes.
Later Ada Boni also mentions in her book La cucina Romana (1929) gnocchi alla romana as a traditional Capitoline recipe.
But well before that, already in the collection of recipes De Re Ciquinaria attributed to Marco Gavio Apicio at the time of the Roman Empire, there is reference to a recipe for a semolina-based dessert that is very similar to that of today’s gnocchi alla romana.
Whatever the origin of this dish, today roman style gnocchi are certainly one of the most popular Roman recipes.
Below is the original recipe for gnocchi alla romana.
For the gnocchi
Heat the milk in a saucepan with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Once it boils, add the semolina and stir to prevent lumps from forming until the mixture thickens.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and then the yolks and Parmesan cheese continuing to stir.
Pour the mixture while it is still hot into a greased baking pan and spread it so as to obtain a rectangular shape about 1 cm thick and let it cool.
With a pastry cutter (or with a glass) cut out the gnocchi and put them in a well buttered ovenproof dish overlapping them a little bit.
Brush the gnocchi with melted butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven already hot at 180 degrees for 15 minutes and make another 5 minutes under the grill.
Your gnocchi alla romana are ready!
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