Serves 6 to 8
At our restaurant Lidia’s Kansas City, some of the favorite offerings on the menu are the three daily pasta specials served tableside, and the Roman- style semolina gnocchi are always popular with customers. This is a more convenient version of gnocchi that, instead of a kneaded dough, uses semolina flour cooked like polenta, allowed to chill, then cut into pieces. This is a perfect dish for entertaining, because it can be assembled and refrigerated up to a day before you bake it, and you can easily multiply the recipe to make large quantities for a big group.
- FOR THE COOKED SEMOLINA
- 5 cups milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ cups coarse semolina flour
- FOR SAUCING AND BAKING THE GNOCCHI
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for the baking dish
- 2 cups shredded Taleggio
- 1 cup grated Grana Padano
Put the milk, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Set over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the milk is hot and the butter melted, then gradually pour in the semolina, whisking steadily. Cook the semolina slowly, over medium-low heat, for ½ hour or more, until it’s thickened, switching to a wooden spoon when it becomes too thick to whisk. When the semolina is very thick, scrape and flatten it into an even layer, about ½ inch thick, on a rimmed baking sheet. Let it cool to room temperature, or until solid.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter a very large dish (14- inch oval, or two smaller dishes). Flip the semolina out onto the counter, and cut into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife. Lay the squares point side up (so they look like diamonds) in the baking dish, with the gnocchi squares slightly overlapping like shingles.
Drizzle with the melted butter. In a medium bowl, toss together the Taleggio and grated Grana Padano. Sprinkle cheese over gnocchi.
Bake the gnocchi for 30 minutes, or until the butter is bubbling in the pan and the top is a beautiful golden brown. Let the dish sit for about 5 minutes; cut into squares, and serve hot.