These Gnocchi are like making polenta but use the Semolina flour instead of corn meal. This was one of the three Gnocchi we made in class at the Austin Whole Foods Culinary Center. We prepped the entire first part and they put them in the blast chiller for us to cut and take with us. You can cut these any size or shape but keep in mind that Italian Gnocchi are small dumplings made of potato, flour or semolina that are boiled or baked and usually served with a sauce or with grated cheese. Cutting them into smaller pieces is keeping with the small dumpling form. Very small ones are called gnocchetti.
These would be a good Valentine’s menu item as either a starter or main course since they are easy to prepare ahead of time and have in a baking dish ready to go in the oven. If you want to be really fancy, use a heart cookie cutter to give them a special shape.
In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, combine milk, nutmeg, salt and 4 tablespoons butter. Bring just to a boil.
Lower heat to medium and immediately start adding semolina in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Keep whisking to make a smooth mixture. Reduce heat to very low and cook, stirring, about 15 minutes. Mixture will be thick and smooth. If the mixture tastes gritty the semolina needs to cook a little longer.
Remove from heat. Stir in half the cheese and the egg yolks. Reserve the remaining grated cheese for serving.
Use some of the oil to grease a baking sheet. Spread hot dough on baking sheet to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until very cold, 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Use a little remaining butter to grease a shallow baking dish about 9 by 13 inches. Use a 2- to 3-inch round cookie cutter or a glass to cut disks of chilled dough. Keep dipping cutter in cold water to prevent sticking. Lift disks off baking sheet and arrange, slightly overlapping, in baking dish. Scraps can be kneaded briefly and smoothed out to allow for a few additional disks.
Sprinkle disks in dish with remaining cheese and dot with remaining butter. Bake about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve gnocchi with some sauce alongside each portion.
We served ours with marinara sauce prepared by the school.
Yield: 6 servings
Source: Austin Whole Foods Culinary Center