First off, let’s get one thing out of the way: no, these don’t look like gnocchi. I get that, I really do. There is a reason for that, though, if you’d just let me explain…
The majority of this recipe comes from chefs and television personalities Gennaro Contaldo and Antonia Carluccio. Their book, Two Greedy Italians (also the name of their show), was gifted to me for Christmas by my mother-in-law (thanks, Gabi!). The picture for their recipe “Gnocchi Alla Romana” looked amazing, and I knew it would have to be the first meal from the cookbook that I’d attempt. Their recipe, however, calls for cutting the cooled, cm-thick semolina into circles, leaving a lot of excess scraps. They recommend taking these scraps and baking them with tomatoes and mozzarella, ensuring nothing is wasted. I decided to take it one step further, eliminating any excess by cutting squares instead of circles, and baking everything together with tomatoes and mozza. The result is absolutely delicious.
I actually attempted this recipe with fresh mozzarella the first time around, and enjoyed it just as much as when I used pizza mozzarella. If you do go the fresh route (you know, the softer type used in Caprese salads), I recommend opting for a pre-sliced option, as it’s difficult to slice evenly due to how soft it is. Also, as a quick note, keep in mind that the amounts for the cheese and tomatoes are just approximate. I mean, nobody is going to try stopping you if you opt for extra mozzarella or parmesan, or need a few more slices of tomato, right?
So, here it is, my Two Greedy Italians-inspired Roman-style square gnocchi, baked with tomatoes and mozzarella. Buon appetito!
Gnocchi Alla Romana with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus extra to taste
- 125 g. durum wheat semolina
- 2 large egg yolks
- ground nutmeg
- ground black pepper
- 30 g. fresh grated parmesan
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 75-100 g. pizza mozzarella
- In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the milk and water to a boil together with the sea salt.
- Once the saucepan starts to boil, reduce the heat to medium, then pour in the semolina and whisk quickly until it starts to thicken (about 30 seconds). Switch to a wooden spoon and continue stirring and cooking another 90 seconds or so, until your semolina reaches a semi-solid state.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly (2-3 minutes). Add in the yolks and a pinch each of the nutmeg and black pepper, and stir until fully incorporated. Taste and add more nutmeg, pepper and/or salt as desired.
- In a metal baking sheet/pan, spread out the semolina to a thickness of about 1 cm, smoothing it out as much as you can (it will be sticky, so you’re not shooting for perfection here). Let sit for about 10-15 minutes to cool and solidify further.
- During this time, prepare for baking. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Then, from your tbsp. of butter, cut a small portion and use this to grease a small baking dish.
- Sprinkle the grated parmesan over the cooled semolina, then cut into approximately equal-sized squares.
- Cut roughly the same number of tomato and mozzarella slices as you have squares of semolina, then place in the dish in alternating layers (see picture below).
- Dot with butter and season carefully with additional pepper if desired.
- Place on the middle rack in your oven and bake for about 12 minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately.