Semolina Gnocchi with Red Pepper and Walnut Sauce

As the nights draw in and you’re looking for something warm and comforting, why not try this tasty supper dish? Semolina based gnocchi are a really interesting alternative to those made with potato, with the added bonus that semolina is easy to keep on standby as a store cupboard essential. It can used for lots of other purposes, like pizza bases or as an alternative to breadcrumbs for a crispy coating.

Taking inspiration from gnocchi alla romana, you can simply prepare and bake the gnocchi on their own or serve with a tomato-based sauce.

If the butter and cheese seems a bit rich, don’t forget that this is where a lot of the flavour comes from. For seasoning, parmesan brings a lot of the saltiness, but make sure to give the pepper grinder some really generous turns.

Here, I’ve paired the gnocchi with a variation on a romesco sauce, using roasted red peppers to impart a sweet, smoky flavour and walnuts for a bit of Autumn earthiness.

~Jo Eats!

Semolina gnocchi

Semolina Gnocchi With Red Pepper and Walnut Sauce

A flavoursome autumnal supper dish of gnocchi made from semolina, paired with a red pepper and walnut sauce.
Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

Semolina Gnocchi

  • 40 g Butter unsalted
  • 500 ml Milk semi-skimmed or whole
  • 125 g Semolina coarse or fine
  • ½ Nutmeg about half a whole nutmeg grated (or ground nutmeg) to taste
  • 50 g Parmesan grated
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 40 g Cheddar Cheese mature
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper

Red Pepper and Walnut Sauce

  • 2 Red Peppers large (or 3 medium)
  • 100 g Walnuts
  • 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 60 ml Olive Oil

Instructions
 

Prepare Gnocchi

  • If making same day, allow at least three hours before you want to eat as the gnocchi mix needs to be chilled and set before baking. You can also ahead and make this the day before. This stage isn't too fiddly but does need attention, so make sure you have all the ingredients prepared and to hand. Also have a hand whisk on standby.
  • Start by putting the milk, butter, a pinch of salt and a good crack of black pepper into a large saucepan, then place on the hob at a medium to high heat.
  • Keeping a careful eye on it – you do not want a boiled milk eruption! – wait for the butter to melt and the milk to start simmering.
  • Take off the heat and whisk in the semolina, nutmeg, parmesan and egg yolk until combined.
  • Return to the heat and keep whisking.
  • The mixture should gradually thicken – the whisking will become harder but keep going. Once it starts to come away from the side of the pan, remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. Don't leave it too long as the mixture will become too firm to work with.
  • On a clean work surface, lay out a piece of foil – about 30cm by 40cm – followed by a double layer of clingfilm.
  • Spoon on the cooled mix and form into a rough sausage shape.
    Semolina gnocchi preparation
  • Roll up fairly tightly and pop in the fridge to firm for a minimum of 2 hours.
    Semolina gnocchi preparation

Red Pepper and Walnut Sauce

  • Heat the oven to 220°c and line a large baking tray with baking parchment or foil.
  • Halve the red peppers, drizzle with a little olive oil and give them a good crack of black pepper. Place on the tray cut side down and roast in the oven for about 30 mins until you get a good, dark colour on the blistered skin.
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool completely. Remove the skins if you wish; they should peel off quite easily. I don't usually bother as I like the smokey almost-but-not-quite burnt flavour it adds. Additionally, the use of walnuts means the sauce is going to have some texture to it, so you won't notice bits of skin in the same way you might in a smoother sauce.
  • Place the cooled roast peppers into a food processor with all the remaining ingredients, except the oil.
  • Blitz to a chunky paste and then gradually add oil to create a loose consistency.
    Semolina gnocchi preparation

Assemble and Bake

  • When you're ready to bake – after the gnocchi has had time to set – heat your oven to 200°c (180°c fan).
  • Smooth a layer of red pepper sauce into a deep roasting dish.
    Semolina gnocchi preparation
  • Take the gnocchi sausage out the fridge and slice it into 1.5cm rounds. Place into the roasting dish on top of the sauce. You can just lay them in flat, but having them overlap slightly will help create some crispier peaks.
    Semolina gnocchi preparation
  • Sprinkle over a layer of cheddar.
    Semolina gnocchi preparation
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. The dish will also benefit from a final grilling for 5 minutes or so, until nicely golden brown on top. Set aside for a further 5 minutes to cool a little before serving.

Notes

Experiment by mixing it up with your cheese and sauces. A blue cheese would work nicely with the walnut, or try serving with a basil pesto.
Instead of rolling the semolina mixture you could spread the mixture into a pan and cut into rounds with a cookie cutter.
Keyword Cheese, Gnocchi, Pepper, Semolina, Walnut
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