Recipe: Gnocchi Alla Romana

Have you ever experienced the simple joys of Gnocchi alla Romana? The recipe – shared here by our regular guest contributor, Danilo Cortellini – dates back to the time (pre 1600s) when potatoes weren’t available in Italy.

A historic and classic dish from the regional cuisine of Lazio, this Roman style gnocchi is made from semolina flour. It is completely different from the more famous potato gnocchi in terms of flavour, texture and looks – however, equally delicious with its fragrant smell of roasted cheese and butter. This is an ideal dish for a flavourful family lunch, in true Italian style.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 125g semolina flour
  • 35g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 75g of grated Grana Padano (or Parmesan)
  • Salt and nutmeg (to taste)


  • Pour the milk in a large casserole and bring it to simmer with a pinch of salt, very little nutmeg (be careful as it can be very powerful) and a knob of butter. At this stage slowly pour in the semolina and stir well in order to avoid lumps. Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes stirring every now and then, exactly like a “polenta”.
  • Once the gnocchi base is cooked, remove from the heat, add the egg yolk and a handful of Grana Padano and mix well until smooth.
  • Pour the cooked semolina in a baking tray folded with parchment and spread it evenly to a thickness of 1 1/2cm. Allow to cool.
  • When the mixture  is cold and firm, cut out discs with a pastry ring or a water glass about 4cm in diameter. Lift these discs out and place them in the buttered oven-safe dish or skillet, slightly overlapping them, until the dish is filled. Melt the left over butter and pour it over the “gnocchi” then sprinkle them with the rest of the Grana Padano cheese.
  • Pre heat the oven at 220°. Bake at 200 ˚C for 15 minutes, until the cheese on top melts and browns. Roast your gnocchi for 5 more minutes under the grill to give them extra crunchiness, colour and a more deep complex flavour. Serve them while still fuming.

About Danilo:

Born in Abruzzo – a small region of Italy rich in culinary tradition – Danilo Cortellini was always destined to become a chef. Travelling through Italy, he worked with Michelin-starred restaurants such as San Domenico and Perbellini, before going on to work at three Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse restaurants in London, eventually becoming Head Chef at the Italian Embassy. In 2015 Danilo took part in MasterChef: The professionals and made it to the final.  | Connect with Danilo on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

Explore more of Danilo’s recipes

We’d love to hear from you! Do let us know if you try this recipe – you can leave a comment below and/ or tag us in your delicious creations on Instagram @the_foodiediaries

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