Thursday, April 29, 2010

Semolina Gnocchi with Cavolo Nero

Katie from Thyme for Cooking is hosting Presto Pasta Night and with the weather cooling down here, it seems a perfect time to turn my hand at making Semolina Gnocchi or Gnocchi alla Romana.

These gnocchi are a speciality of the Lazio region of Italy and are made using a mix of semolina, milk and egg. One of the more popular variations involves the addition of spinach but in this case I've decided to use Cavolo nero instead.

cavolo nero© by Haalo

To prepare the cavolo nero, first strip the green leafy parts away from the stalks - the stalks won't be used in this dish. The leaves are boiled until tender. Drain them well and then squeeze out all excess moisture - I usually take a portion of leaves, roll them into a ball and squeeze them in my palm. From one bunch of cavolo nero I ended up with about 100 grams of cooked leaf. If you can't find cavolo nero you can substitute the same weight in spinach, chard or silverbeet.

Semolina Gnocchi with Cavolo Nero© by Haalo

Semolina Gnocchi with Cavolo Nero

3 cups milk
160 grams fine semolina
100 grams prepared Cavolo Nero, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
finely grated Parmesan
Béchamel Sauce

Make the gnocchi:

Place the milk and a dash of salt in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to near boiling point. Using a wooden spoon stir the milk and simultaneously sprinkle in the fine semolina - it's important to keep stirring to avoid having lumps.

Stir until the mixture thickens and starts to move away from the sides of the pan - take it off the heat but keep stirring. Add in the chopped Cavolo Nero and stir vigorously to ensure it's well mixed and starting to cool down.

Pour in the egg and keep stirring - the mixture will separate but will come back together as you continue stirring.

Spread this out onto a baking paper lined tray - smooth the surface with a palette knife. You should aim to have the mixture about 1cm thick. Cover the surface with baking paper and place in the fridge to cool and set.

Semolina Gnocchi with Cavolo Nero© by Haalo

Once cold, lift the mixture from the tray using the baking paper and place on a board - use a circle cutter to cut out discs.

Butter a baking dish well and arrange the discs, overlapping slightly to form rows.

Semolina Gnocchi with Cavolo Nero© by Haalo

Carefully pour Béchamel over the rows of gnocchi and then top with finely grated Parmesan.

Bake in a preheated 200°C/400°F oven until heated through and the cheese has melted and browned.

Semolina Gnocchi with Cavolo Nero© by Haalo

This is real comfort food - the gnocchi are soft and pillowly, the cavolo nero adds a touch of minerality to the dish while the Béchamel is decadently delicious - I especially love those extra crunchy bits which I like to claim as cooks bounty.


  1. Absolutely beautiful! No surprises though...I always love your photos. Not to mention your dishes.

    Thanks for sharing this one with Presto Pasta Nights. I'm comforted just looking at it.

  2. This looks very much like what I would call kale. Is it the same thing? Great photos whatever you call it!

  3. Perfect - I've never made this and have been wanting to try... And I just planted silverbeet in my garden. So, next fall I'll be doing this.... I don't want to wait that long but the hubs just got the grill out, so it's summer cooking for the forseeable future!

  4. That's a very good idea!! yammy!!

  5. What a beautiful and delicious dish! I've never seen gnocchi prepared this way but I will certainly have to give it a try. The photos are gorgeous.

  6. Thanks Ruth - always fun to join in!

    Hi Heather - kale is a little bit different but you could use kale in this recipe. Cavolo nero is also called Tuscan cabbage or Black cabbage

    Thanks Katie - good things come to those that wait ;)

    Thanks Elle!

    Thanks Joanne - they are probably the easiest gnocchi to make.

  7. Very beautiful - this Gnocchi looks so delicious!!

  8. We've been getting this particular variety of kale in our CSA, so I am thrilled to find a new way of fixing it. Looks just delicious.

  9. Hi I just came across this recipe, is there any chance you could substitute semolina for polenta? Thanks :)

  10. Anon - I'm going to assume you mean substitute polenta for the semolina. The answer is no. You could though just make polenta with the added cavolo nero, let it set, cut it into rounds and top it with the bechamel.


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