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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.

Semolina Gnocchi with Tomato Basil Sauce
Summary: Typically served as an appetizer in Italy, gnocchi Romana goes beautifully with a simple tomato sauce. This is a lovely recipe and it is easy to prepare.
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Appetiser
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
For the Gnocchi:
  • 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
For the Napoli Sauce:
  • 28 oz canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 handful finely chopped basil
  1. First prepare the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the garlic and cook gently until soft.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and basil, as well as some salt and black pepper, and simmer gently for 25 minutes.
  4. Take the sauce off the heat.
  5. Next make the gnocchi.
  6. Bring the milk to a boil in a nonstick pan, then turn down the heat.
  7. Gradually stir in the semolina, stirring the whole time with a wooden spoon so you do not get any lumps.
  8. Cook for 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring often.
  9. Remove the semolina from the pan.
  10. Add the egg yolks, some salt to taste, 1¾ oz parmesan, and 3 oz of butter.
  11. Transfer the mixture on to a clean damp countertop.
  12. Push it down into a ½ inch thick rectangle shape with a wet spatula.
  13. Cut out 2-inch wide rounds with a glass or pastry-cutter.
  14. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  15. Use butter to grease a rectangular baking dish and arrange the gnocchi in one layer in there.
  16. It is fine if they overlap slightly.
  17. Melt the rest of the butter and pour it over the gnocchi.
  18. For a lighter taste, you could use olive oil instead of melted butter here.
  19. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan and the breadcrumbs on top.
  20. Bake for half an hour, or until golden brown.
  21. Warm the sauce back up and serve it with the gnocchi arranged on top.
  22. Garnish with sprigs of basil.

Photo Description:

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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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.

Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.

When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole


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