Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo

Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo

 

 

This is a wonderful dish to make for a dinner party. It has everything you want: a wow factor, great authentic Italian flavour, and can be made in advanced. I love making homemade pasta and filled pastas and have many a time made over 50 raviolis for Christmas or other special occasions – and let me tell you that is freakin’ time-consuming (both in prep and cooking).

 

 

This is why I love making Rotolo, it’s quite similar to any filled pasta in flavour, however where it differs is in its preparation time. To make pasta dough is not too time-consuming especially when made in a food processor, and to make a spinach and ricotta filling is also rather basic. However when the two are combined it is in no way basic in taste!

 

 

What makes rotolo so fabulous (aside from the tatse), is the the simplicity in making it. Once you’ve got your pasta dough made and rolled out, you merely spread any filling of your choice over it; roll it up like a Swiss Roll, wrap it in a dish towel, tie it up and boil for 30 minutes. Also, you can make it in advance and cook it when your guests arrive.

 

 

I often make one with a butternut and a spinach filling, that way you get a layer of orange and then another layer of green (even more impressive for your guests). I like to serve mine either with a tomato sauce or with a sage and brown butter sauce, but sometimes I take a simpler route and enjoy it with a drizzle of good olive oil and a grating of Parmesan cheese.

 

 

For the Pasta

2 cups ’00’ flour
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

 

In a food processor, place all the ingredients and blend until all the ingredients come together and form a rough ball. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about ten minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and silky.

Alternatively, place the flour onto a working surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs, salt and olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape. Do not worry that this initial phase looks messy. The dough will come together when ½ the flour is incorporated. Once all the ingredients are incorporated a ball of dough is formed, knead for about ten minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and silky.

Once the dough is silky, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for at least 20 minutes or when ready to use.

 

For the Filling

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp picked thyme
300g packet of spinach or Swiss chard
250g ricotta
125g grated Parmesan cheese
1–2 gratings of fresh nutmeg (be careful not to add too much)
salt and pepper, to taste

 

In a saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the onions, garlic and thyme. Cook on a medium to low heat until the onions soften and become translucent (about 8–10 minutes).

While the onions are cooking, cook the spinach in a large pot in about a ¼ cup of water and a ½ teaspoon of salt for 5 minutes or until completely wilted. Make sure to stir the spinach occasionally to ensure even cooking. Drain the spinach, and when cool, squeeze out excess liquid (I merely use my hands to squeeze out the liquid), then roughly chop the spinach.

In a bowl, combine the spinach, cooked onion, ricotta, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg. Mix well and taste, season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble the Rotolo: using a rolling pin, roll the pasta dough into a thin sheet roughly about ½ cm thick. Spread the spinach filling over the dough and roll up the dough. Wrap in a cheese cloth (a clean white dish towel will work too), tie the ends.

Bring a large pot of water with a tablespoon of salt to the boil. Carefully place the Rotolo into the boiling water and boil for 30 minutes.

Remove from water, unwrap the cheese cloth and cut into slices. Serve with a sauce of your choice.

 

 

 

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