Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Several regions of Italy claim the rotolo di spinach e ricotta, a large leaf of fresh pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese and rolled into a cylinder. The rotolo from Sardinia is a delightful and easy dish. There is time and labor involved of course, but all in all nothing is too difficult. It's also a crowd pleaser.
One starts by making the fresh pasta, using only flour, water, and salt. While the pasta ball rests one can make the stuffing. I put two pounds of spinach with only the water adhering to it from its last rinsing into a large pot and wilt it over high heat for 5 minutes. I let the spinach drain and cool and once it has, I'll pick up softball sized pieces of the spinach and squeeze all remaining water out. Then we chop the spinach and mix it with a pound of fresh ricotta cheese and 3 eggs.
The ricotta must really be fresh and not from a container in a supermarket. As of this writing supermarkets do not sell fresh ricotta so you need to make it yourself or visit an Italian market. The pasta is rolled out into a thin sheet about 24 inches by 14 inches. The spinach and ricotta stuffing is spread over the pasta sheet and rolled up tightly. Then ends are secured and the whole stuffed rotolo is wrapped in cheesecloth and tied off with twine.
Boil it for 20 minutes in salted water and serve with tomato sauce. It's very nice, very pretty.
[Photo: Clifford A. Wright]