These gnocchi are a speciality of the Lazio region of Italy and are made using a mix of semolina, milk and egg. One of the more popular variations involves the addition of spinach but in this case I've decided to use Cavolo nero instead.
To prepare the cavolo nero, first strip the green leafy parts away from the stalks - the stalks won't be used in this dish. The leaves are boiled until tender. Drain them well and then squeeze out all excess moisture - I usually take a portion of leaves, roll them into a ball and squeeze them in my palm. From one bunch of cavolo nero I ended up with about 100 grams of cooked leaf. If you can't find cavolo nero you can substitute the same weight in spinach, chard or silverbeet.
3 cups milk
160 grams fine semolina
100 grams prepared Cavolo Nero, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
finely grated Parmesan
Make the gnocchi:
Place the milk and a dash of salt in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to near boiling point. Using a wooden spoon stir the milk and simultaneously sprinkle in the fine semolina - it's important to keep stirring to avoid having lumps.
Stir until the mixture thickens and starts to move away from the sides of the pan - take it off the heat but keep stirring. Add in the chopped Cavolo Nero and stir vigorously to ensure it's well mixed and starting to cool down.
Pour in the egg and keep stirring - the mixture will separate but will come back together as you continue stirring.
Spread this out onto a baking paper lined tray - smooth the surface with a palette knife. You should aim to have the mixture about 1cm thick. Cover the surface with baking paper and place in the fridge to cool and set.
Once cold, lift the mixture from the tray using the baking paper and place on a board - use a circle cutter to cut out discs.
Butter a baking dish well and arrange the discs, overlapping slightly to form rows.
Carefully pour Béchamel over the rows of gnocchi and then top with finely grated Parmesan.
Bake in a preheated 200°C/400°F oven until heated through and the cheese has melted and browned.
This is real comfort food - the gnocchi are soft and pillowly, the cavolo nero adds a touch of minerality to the dish while the Béchamel is decadently delicious - I especially love those extra crunchy bits which I like to claim as cooks bounty.