Roman-Style Gnocchi with Pecorino Foam and Amatriciana Sauce

A Special Recipe Dedicated to Mothers

These Roman-Style gnocchi are inspired by the famous saying: “Laugh, laugh, because mom made gnocchi.” This phrase wascommonly used as a proverb. It ironically conveyed to someone that their laughter is out of place for something that isn’t actually funny. This popular saying, often heard from our grandmothers, actually has a dual origin. On one hand, it certainly serves to comment on a moment of unprovoked hilarity. On the other hand, we must remember it’s an ancient and popular expression, which can also be linked to the great pleasure of seeing a dish like gnocchi on the table. The dish references to times of poverty when it was very difficult to put something good to eat on the table.

Gnocchi on Thursday

So, if mom managed to prepare gnocchi with potatoes and flour, the family was happy and celebrated for a delicious meal compared to usual. Gnocchi are usually prepared in Italy on Thursdays, which leads us to another popular saying: “Thursday gnocchi.” This is somehow linked to the previous one through the history of poor and rationed cuisine. This expression comes from Roman popular culture and stems from the need of less affluent classes to ration and optimize food, thus marking the meals of the week. The common practice of preparing gnocchi on Thursdays was due to the need to eat a substantial and calorie-rich dish in anticipation of the next day, Friday. In Catholic tradition, Friday is a “lean” day, meaning fasting or abstaining from meat consumption.

Roman-Style Gnocchi dish
© Lorenzo Diamantini

Roman-style Gnocchi

Roman-style gnocchi are an ancient preparation, reserved for important occasions and celebrations. They have typically Lazio origins and are made with a semolina-based dough, unlike classic gnocchi, which originate in northern Italy and date back to when potatoes were imported to Italy from America.

Mother’s Day: Festa della Mama

It seems that Mother’s Day was also imported from the United States, proposed by the feminist Julia Ward Howe, made a public celebration by American President Wilson. He chose the second Sunday in May as the day of celebrations. Mother’s Day has a very ancient origin but has always been celebrated in May. However, it was already celebrated in pagan times, during the Greek and Roman era. The celebration was linked to the worship of female deities and fertility. It marked the rapid transition from the cold and white winter to the colorful and warm summer.

Much time has passed from these rituals to the present day, but the spirit remains the same — to celebrate women in the greatest expression of their femininity. It is from this spirit that my culinary tribute arises. Enjoy a dish that is commonly associated with family lunches and the most important woman in our lives, our mother.


For the gnocchi

  • 500g whole milk
  • 30g butter
  • 125g semolina
  • 50g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Salt to taste

For the Amatriciana sauce

  • 1 onion
  • 120g aged guanciale (cured pork jowl)
  • 250g tomato pulp
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Basil to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the pecorino foam
  • 50g Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 100g milk
  • 150g cream


  • In a saucepan, add the milk, butter, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of nutmeg, and bring to a boil.
  • Once the butter is melted, reduce the heat and gradually sprinkle in the semolina, stirring well to dissolve any lumps.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, the semolina for 15 minutes until it reaches a thick consistency.
  • Incorporate the egg yolk and grated Parmesan cheese and mix the ingredients.
  • Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled rectangular mold and spread the dough with a wet spatula into a uniform layer about 2 cm thick.
  • Once the mixture has cooled, cut out the gnocchi using a round or drop-shaped cutter dipped in cold water.
  • To prepare the sauce, peel and thinly slice the onion and garlic.
  • In a non-stick skillet, heat a drizzle of oil, add the sliced onion and garlic, add 20ml of water, and sauté the vegetables.
  • Meanwhile, dice the guanciale and add it to the sautéed onion, then add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and 20g of water.
  • Continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the tomato pulp, 2 basil leaves, and cook the sauce over medium heat for another 10 minutes.
  • For the pecorino foam, warm the milk to 30°C, pour it into a glass, add the grated Pecorino cheese, and blend until smooth.
  • Strain through a fine mesh sieve and let cool.
  • Mix the cream into the cheese mixture and pour it into a siphon.
  • Arrange the semolina gnocchi well-spaced on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 200°C until golden brown.
  • Serve the gratinated gnocchi with pecorino foam and Amatriciana sauce.
Lorenzo Diamantini

Food and Wine Editor

Lorenzo Diamantini was born in 1987 in Gubbio, a wonderful medieval Umbrian city in central Italy. He has been an electrician for 15 years and at the same time, cultivates countless passions for art, photography, reading and writing — in particular poetry which is his own peculiarity. Lorenzo is the author of several poems and he devotes much of his free time to his writings. As a former footballer, Lorenzo is also a fitness lover, a full-time athlete, and devotes 6 days to training per week. Care for the body and food brings him closer to the world of cooking which becomes a large part of his creative expression and good taste. This somewhat stimulating hobby matures hand in hand with his love for wine and craft beer that embellish the recipes with refined combinations. Numerous publications of his dishes on his social media platforms attract great interest/ Today, Lorenzo is a food blogger in evolution and is more and more appreciated on the net. Follow @lorenzodiamantini on Instagram.

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