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Rachel Roddy’s recipe for semolina gnocchi with butter, parmesan and sage | A kitchen in Rome

In Rome, before potatoes (as late as the 1850s), gnocchi were made with semolina flour, mixed with cheese and egg, and baked in butter. Sounds stodgy? You’ll be surprised.

Gnocchi are a cornerstone of Roman home cooking, as much a part of the city’s trattorias as rigatoni, bread, toothpicks and nonchalant chaos – especially on a Thursday.

The tradition is encapsulated by a stornello Romano, a Roman folk rhyme noting a weekly calendar of dishes that goes something like this: Monday beans with pork rind, Tuesday braised meat with celery, Wednesday oxtail, Thursday se Dio vorrà, li gnocchi (if god wants, gnocchi), Friday fresh fish soup, Saturday tripe with sauce, Sunday supplì, or rice croquettes. There were different versions of this calendar and rhyme, which were adopted in different ways; some trattorias follow it faithfully, others just nod. This continues to this day, but whether faithful or nodding, one thing is almost certain: Giovedì gnocchi – on Thursday there are gnocchi.

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