Gnocchi Romana with Napoli Sauce
Gnocchi is a fantastic choice if you want to make something authentically Italian, but rather than being made of squash, ricotta or potato, these are made with semolina for a lovely flavor and texture. You can make this dish a day in advance if you want, and bake it when your dinner guests arrive, to really simplify the evening. Gnocchi varies across Italy, and can be made with flour, ricotta and spinach, or flour and egg, breadcrumbs and potatoes, or something else.
A Closer Look at the Dish
Usually served as an appetizer, gnocchi are usually homemade in Italy, although they can also be purchased fresh from specialty stores. Dried, frozen and refrigerated types are also available in the supermarket but if you want to enjoy gnocchi fully, make your own from scratch and you will be amazed at the incredible flavor. Melted butter with sage can be drizzled on top of your gnocchi, or you could make a cheese, tomato or pesto sauce instead. The following recipe features a Napoli sauce, or Neapolitan sauce, which is tomato-based.
Despite the fact both the gnocchi and the sauce are made from scratch, you do not need a whole lot of ingredients to prepare this dish. The gnocchi is semolina, eggs, milk and flavorings, while the sauce is a simple combination of tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil. As simple as these flavors are, the finished dish is really exquisite and each mouthful conjures the authentic taste of Italian cuisine at its finest.
- 2 pints milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 oz breadcrumbs
- 9 oz semolina
- 3½ oz parmesan
- 7 oz butter, plus more for greasing
- 4 sprigs of basil, for garnish
- 28 oz canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 handful finely chopped basil
- First prepare the sauce.
- Heat the oil in a skillet, add the garlic and cook gently until soft.
- Stir in the tomatoes and basil, as well as some salt and black pepper, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
- Take the sauce off the heat.
- Next make the gnocchi.
- Bring the milk to a boil in a nonstick pan, then turn down the heat.
- Gradually stir in the semolina, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon so you do not get any lumps.
- Cook for 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring often.
- Remove the semolina from the pan.
- Add the egg yolks, some salt to taste, 1¾ oz parmesan, and 3 oz of butter.
- Transfer the mixture on to a clean damp countertop.
- Push it down into a ½ inch thick rectangle shape with a wet spatula.
- Cut out 2-inch wide rounds with a glass or pastry-cutter.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Use butter to grease a rectangular baking dish and arrange the gnocchi in one layer in there.
- It is fine if they overlap slightly.
- Melt the rest of the butter and pour it over the gnocchi.
- For a lighter taste, you could use olive oil instead of melted butter here.
- Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan and the breadcrumbs on top.
- Bake for half an hour, or until golden brown.
- Warm the sauce back up and serve it with the gnocchi arranged on top.
- Garnish with sprigs of basil.
Rustic yet extraordinary, gnocchi Romana suits any occasion from a friendly gathering to a 3-course meal made to impress. The gnocchi is made from scratch using semolina, eggs, butter and more, to offer a simple flavor, and for the sauce you just need tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic, so all the fresh flavors shine through cleanly and beautifully. The photo shows what an attractive appetizer this is, especially when garnished with a sprig of basil. Serve this before the entrée or increase the portion size and enjoy it as an entrée. This is also nice served with a green salad on the side.
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