Italian Rotolo in Marinara Sauce

rotolo slices on plate
Italian Rotolo

ROTOLO in Marinara Sauce

1/3 pound prosciutto, very thinly sliced
1 pkg. (12 oz.) cooked spinach, chopped well drained
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ c. roasted sweet red peppers (from a jar) drained, chopped
½ c. pitted Greek olives, chopped
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional, as garnish)

PASTA
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
¼ c. milk
1/2 tsp baking powder

FINISHING
Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Melted butter
1 qt. marinara sauce (your favorite)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. To make the pasta (classic method), mix the flour baking powder and salt together and mound on a work surface. Make a well in the center of the flour. Pour the eggs and milk into the well. Mix the eggs with a fork. Then begin incorporating the flour from the inside of the well into the eggs. Bring in just enough of the flour to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead the dough until smooth, about 10 minutes. You may need to add a little water if the dough seems too dry or flour if it is too wet. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it rest while you make the filling. Easier and faster method: Place all pasta ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer. Mix first using the paddle, then switch to the dough hook to knead.

To make the filling, combine. Spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan, roasted red peppers, Greek olives, egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a large round about 17-18 inches in diameter. The dough should be thin.

Lay prosciutto slices evenly over pasta sheet. Spread the filling evenly over the dough to within ½ inch of the edges. Roll dough like a jelly roll. Wet and pinch the seam to seal it and to prevent the filling from coming out. Place the roll along a long edge of a large clean kitchen towel, roll the pasta up in a towel, and tie the ends of the towel with string. I usually use 2 square yards of cheesecloth folded in thirds and roll, tying the ends.

Bring a large, oval turkey roasting pan filled with 1 gallon of water to a boil. Carefully lower the cheesecloth-encased pasta roll into the water, bending it gently to fit if necessary. When the water returns to the boil, partially cover the pot and poach the roll for 30 minutes, turning once or twice to keep it round. Remove the roll carefully with 2 spatulas, place it on a baking sheet, and let it cool.

rotolo in pan ready to bake
Rotolo in pan

Untie and unwrap the towel and carefully transfer the roll to a cutting board. Cut ½ inch off each end, then make 12 slices, about 1-1/4 inches thick and lay them on their sides in an oiled baking dish in a single layer.
Serve with a simple marinara sauce (store-bought is fine, or make your favorite). Pour sauce in the bottom of baking dish, cover and bake 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 minutes more, finishing under the broiler until the top edges begin to turn golden brown. Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese. (Also, fresh basil is a good addition to the filling or as a garnish).

 

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