Think of this dish as pot pie the Italian grandmother you always wanted made (or maybe that’s just me?). The base of the sauce is made with Tuttorosso Italian Inspirations Peeled Plum tomatoes and is rounded out with spicy sausage and sweet fennel. The whole thing is topped with light, fluffy & cheesy Gnocchi alla Romana. These tender semolina style gnocchi are made porridge style; the base is cooked on the stove before being transferred to a sheet pan to set for a few hours. Once the gnocchi base is firm, you cut out round and top the quick ragu with them. The whole thing bakes in the oven until bubbly and golden brown and IOHO your life is forever changed.
- 6 cups whole milk
- 2 cups semolina flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter, divided
- 2 egg, yolks
- 1 1/ 2 cups parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling
- Cooking spray, as needed
Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray again.
In a 6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in semolina flour, then add salt. Whisk thoroughly to be sure that no lumps form. Cook, stirring constantly until, the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the pan, about 10 minutes. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter the parmesan cheese and stir until well incorporated and the butter has melted. Whisk in the egg yolks off heat, stirring until combined.
Pour the semolina into the pan and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
Once firm, cut into 2 inch circles using a biscuit cutter or a sturdy kitchen glass. Set aside while you make the ragu.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 3 hot italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
- kosher salt and black pepper, To Taste
- crushed red pepper flakes, To Taste
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Tuttorosso Tomato Paste
- 1/ 2 cup white wine
- 1 (28 ounce) can Tuttorosso Italian Inspirations Peeled Plum Tomatoes
To make the ragu, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with the back of a fork, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl and set aside.
Remove and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and set over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to break down and turn golden brown. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Add the tomato paste and stir to coat all of the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let the tomato paste cook for about 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any brown bits that had formed on the bottom. Let the wine cook until reduced by half, then add the Tuttorosso Italian Inspirations Peeled Plum Tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up with the back of a spoon or a fork and cook until the mixture reaches a simmer. Add the reserved sausage back in, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and top with the Gnocchi alla Romana.
Melt the remaining butter and brush the tops of the gnocchi with it. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, then place in the oven (on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
Let cool slightly before serving.
Tip: Save the scraps of the gnocchi! Brush them with butter and sprinkle with parmesan and bake them on a sheet pan. They make the perfect snack for little hands (and grown-ups, too!).