Long before ships brought native crops from the Americas to Europe, Italy was a land without red sauce, corn polenta, or potato gnocchi. But even without the potato, gnocchi still existed, such as in the form of the classic gnocchi alla Romana, this custardy oven-baked version made with semolina, egg, cheese, and butter. You could say these are the OG: the original gnocchi.
'semolina' on Serious Eats
Francine Segan calls this the "world's easiest pasta." Indeed, you'll need little more than your fingers to make the pasta, and it needs nothing other than a bit of cheese, oil, and (maybe) meat to finish. Cooked in just a quart of water, these tiny "nuggets" of semolina, water, and egg have the same tender toothsome texture as German spaetzle, but are served like polenta.
Sooji Upma is a delicious alternative to the usual bacon and eggs or cereal for breakfast. It's vegetarian, quick to rustle up and packed with nutrition.
This recipe is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver, from his book Cook with Jamie. It's a little less dainty than some other versions of shortbread, made extra crumbly by the addition of cornstarch and semolina flour. It's perfect on it's own, or served with berries, sorbet, or ice cream.
Of all the crazy and random additions I've made to bread doughs, semolina flour is the one that has become a regular component in my breads. It makes the bread a very pale yellow color and gives it a richer flavor. The first time I used it, it reminded me of a bread my mother used to buy from a local bakery when I was a kid, and that I hadn't tasted since.
The cake's virtue is its simplicity: it's sort of like cornbread, only made with semolina. What really makes it shine, though, is that it's topped while still hot with a sweet glaze which oozes into every little nook and cranny of the porous cake. Finished off with a sprinkling of almonds on top, it makes the perfect complement to a strong Turkish coffee.
It's like an extra serving of the best part of bread; the brown, crunchy, sesame-coated crust in concentrated form.