Roman gnocchi “pizza” with chard and roasted mushrooms

Roman gnocchi pizza

The power went out for about an hour this morning. It was the crucial coffee-making hour. I panicked, and bought two large coffees after taking Isaac to school. ($5.30? Really?) By the time I got back home, the power was on and all was right with the world. Well, that coffee must have been stronger than our usual coffee, cause I feel a little odd! I’m wired, my heart is racing, and I feel on the verge of seeing spots or possibly experiencing tunnel vision. But I’m strangely tired, too. I could take a nap, in fact. Except that I can’t take a nap, because I’ve had too much coffee!! And I feel like I’ve got too much to do to take a nap, but we all know that’s not true, because I’m a lady of leisure. A roustabout, a ne’er-do-well.

I would like to tell you about my roman gnocchi pizza, though. I’m a big fan of roman gnocchi. Basically, roman gnocchi involves applying a cream puff technique (one of my very favorite cooking techniques) to semolina flour. It’s baked rather than boiled. It doesn’t call for potatoes, but it does call for eggs. So it’s light and fluffy. Dense and soft on the inside, cripsy on the outside. Very comforting and delicious. You can add all sorts of things to the batter – herbs and cheese being the most likely (I was going to make a joke about adding nails and pennies, and legos and other small household objects, but I thought you might think the coffee had made me crazy!). I like to make a big plate of roman gnocchi in the summer, and then have lots of little dishes along with it – fresh tomatoes and basil, chard and raisins and pinenuts, basil pesto, crispy eggplant, a good salad. It’s one of my favorite meals! This time of year I thought it would be nice with chard and roasted mushrooms. And I further thought that it would be nice to combine them before I bake the roman gnocchi, and to make it in a sort of pizza shape. So that’s what I did. It was quite simple to make. Generally, when you make roman gnocchi, you make the dough and then let it sit, so that you can cut it into shapes before you bake it. The sitting step was eliminated in this version, because I just scooped it onto a baking tray and arranged it with a spoon.

Here’s Mississippi John Hurt with Coffee Blues. This song kills me, because it’s so beautiful, but it’s actually an advertisement for a particular brand of coffee!

1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 t salt
1/2 t basil
1/2 t thyme
1 heaping cup semolina flour
3 eggs
3 T butter

1 T olive oil
1 bunch chard, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 t rosemary
1 clove garlic
1/2 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1-2 cups grated mozzarella

Roasted mushrooms I cut them slightly larger than I usually do, so they wouldn’t dry out too much on the pizza. And I left out the garlic, because I sauteed it with the chard, instead.

Preheat the oven to 375

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, salt, basil and thyme. When it’s simmering fairly well, whisk in the semolina in a thin stream, whisking the whole time. After a few minutes it will start to thicken. When you can stand the whisk up in it, it’s done. Take it off the heat and beat in the butter, and then the eggs, one at a time.

Lightly butter a large baking sheet. Spoon the batter onto the sheet, and with the back of a spoon arrange it in a big oval. Make the center part about 1/4 inch thick, and build up the edges to be about 1 1/2 inches wide and high. (Make a “crust” as if it were a pizza.)

Warm some olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes. When the garlic starts to sizzle and brown, add the chard. Cook till it’s wilted and the pan is dry.

Spread the chard in the center of the gnocchi “pizza.” Cover with a layer of mushrooms, and then a layer of cheese.

Bake for about 25 minutes, till the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the semolina crust is puffed and starting to brown.

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