Semolina Gnocchi, with Rich Tomato Sauce

Gnocchi alla Romana - Baked Semolina Gnocchi

Gnocchi alla Romana – Baked Semolina Gnocchi

By Cat, June 2009 (Photo collage, right, from Italian (9))

Includes: 1. Gnocchi introduction; 2. Semolina Gnocchi; 3. Rich Tomato Sauce

See also: 1. Gnocchi alla Romana (Baked Semolina Gnocchi) 2. Potato Gnocchi; 3. Ricotta Gnocchi

Gnocchi is pronounced correctly as nyoh’-kee (the ny sound is similar to ñ in Spanish), but commonly mispronounced as nyah’-kee or noh’-kee. (You can listen to the pronunciation at (1)).  An alternate spelling is ‘ñoqui’. Wikipedia (5) suggests the word means ‘lump’ and is derived from the Italian gnocchio (knot in wood), or nocca (knuckle). 

They are a cross between pasta and dumpling. Perhaps the best known are potato gnocchi, but they can be made from a variety of ingredients, including semolina, wheat flour, or bread crumbs.

Ricotta gnocchi, with or without spinach, is probably one of the original versions, from where gnocchi originated in the Middle East.  The people around the Mediterranean were making gnocchi for centuries before the introduction of potatoes from the new world.  Semolina or ricotta gnocchi were very common.

Semolina Gnocchi, with Rich Tomato Sauce

This recipe is adapted from Astray Recipes (10). The original recipe uses metric amounts; because I am not totally certain of my conversions, I’ve also included the original metric. for more about semolina, a yellowish white flour from durum wheat,, red wine see Wheat (about), and scroll down to ‘Semolina.’

You can make this with the tomato sauce, or you can omit the sauce and bake them with butter and cheese, as in Gnocchi alla Romana (Baked Semolina Gnocchi).

Alternately, use cooked potato gnocchi in this recipe; bake only until cheese sprinkled on top melts, since you cook the potato gnocchi before assembling for baking in oven.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 4 cups (1 liter) filtered water
  • 1 ¼ cup less 2 tsp (200 grams) semolina
  • 2 large eggs
  • scant ¼ cup (50 grams) butter
  • 1 ¼ cup (100 grams) grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, divided
  •  Unrefined sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 recipe rich tomato sauce (optional, below)
  • large saucepan
  • marble slab
  • baking dish


  1. Bring water to boil in saucepan.  Sprinkle semolina over the water, stirring with a wooden spoon.  Cook about 5 minutes over low heat, until semolina is thick.
  2. Remove from heat; add butter and eggs; mix well.  Add 1 cup cheese, salt and pepper.
  3. Allow semolina to cool for a few minute, then pour onto a greased marble slab.  Smooth with hand dipped in cold water.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F.  Lightly butter baking dish.
  5. When dough is cool, cut into circles or squares, place pieces in baking sheet, overlapping slightly.
  6. Proceed as in above recipe (sprinkle remaining cheese over, then dot with additional butter; bake);
  7. OR cover with just enough tomato sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake about 10-15 minutes in preheated oven.

Rich Tomato Sauce

The original recipe (10) is in metric units; I am not totally certain of my conversions to English, and include the original metric as well.

It must be the butter that makes this sauce rich. Alternately, you can use one of my tomato sauce recipes:

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 2 ¾ cups (750 grams) ripe tomatoes (or two 14-oz cans diced tomatoes)
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (or more)
  • 2 Tbsp (30 grams) butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • Unrefined sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 3-quart saucier or large cast iron skillet


  1. Chop tomatoes; set aside. Dice onion and mince garlic; set aside.
  2. Warm butter in saucier; add diced onion and minced garlic.  Saute until translucent, then add chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, sugar, salt, pepper and wine.
  3. Cook over medium heat until tomatoes have disintegrated and sauce is thick.  Remove bay and thyme; adjust seasonings and serve.


  1. on pronunciation of gnocchi (
  2. Italian, Kyle Phillips’ gnocchi recipe (
  3.  How to Make Potato Gnocchi video (
  4. Brett Moore’s recipe for potato gnocchi (
  5. Wikipedia on Gnocchi (
  6. Daily Inter Lake, May 27, 2009, originally from the Los Angeles Times (
  7. Italian recipe: Making Aunt Emma’s Gnocchi alla Romana Lite: An Illustrated Recipe, (
  8. Italian Rich Semollina Gnocchi recipe by Kyle Phillips (
  9. Italian, Gnocchi alla Romana recipe by Kyle Phillips (
  10. Astray Recipes (

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