I first enjoyed one of these on my travels years ago in Italy. So you can imagine how pleased I was to see the rotolo making a comeback. Rotolo, meaning rolled, is a pasta dish that is easy to make, uses only a few ingredients, and looks pretty special on a plate.
Here’s how you can channel your inner Italian to produce a healthy, vegetarian meal. Or, if you want to make it a little more naughty, add a tasty burnt butter and sage sauce to it.
- 1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2cm cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 350g fresh ricotta. Store bought ricotta is ok too.
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus shaved parmesan to serve
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 fresh lasagne sheets (15cm x 30cm)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 80g unsalted butter
- Sage leaves
Starting off with a fresh, brightly coloured pumpkin will greatly assist with the end result. If the pumpkin is under ripe, the flavour just won’t be there.
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees celsius.
Cut the pumpkin up into 2cm pieces.
Place into a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle fennel seeds and dried chilli flakes over the pumpkin.
Cover with a sheet of baking paper and then foil and bake for 40 minutes or until soft.
Note: The baking paper is a great tip for baking vegetables when you don’t want any colour on them. Burnt bits, or anything other than the orange of the pumpkin will affect how the final rotolo looks.
When the pumpkin is soft, drain off the liquid and leave it to sit in the sieve for 30 minutes to ensure all liquid is removed. Excess liquid is not your friend when it comes to this dish.
Once completely drained, push the pumpkin through a drum sieve (like below) or any other form of sieve you have. This will result in silky smooth, lump free pumpkin.
Add the ricotta, shaved parmesan and nutmeg and mix through.
This should result in a smooth filling similar to that below.
I always choose to make my pasta with my fresh chicken eggs. But, if you’re not into making the pasta, or just don’t have time, buying fresh pasta from the supermarket will work just as well.
This part seems tricky, but it is actually quite simple. I’ve included the photos of all stages of the rolling as I believe this really helps.
The first stage is to dampen a teatowel. Again, you don’t want it really wet as this will stick to the pasta.
Attach the pasta sheets lengthways and overlap them slightly.
Spread the mixture all over the pasta, leaving a little gap at the very front. This is where you will start rolling from.
Start rolling away from you as per the photo below.
Keep rolling until you have rolled it completely up and it resembles a log.
Next roll it up gently in the damp tea towel.
Tie the ends with kitchen string as tightly as possible.
In what appears to be a strange step, place the rotolo into a deep roasting pan or a fish poaching pan. I have used the fish poacher.
Pour boiling water over the entire rotolo.
Cover and simmer on medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until al dente.
Once it has cooked, carefully remove the rotolo from the water and let is rest whilst you make the sauce.
OPTIONAL STEP : For the sauce, melt the butter in a frypan and cook until golden brown, and you get a slightly nutty smell and flavour. Add the sage leaves and fry until they are crisp. This won’t take very long.
Unwrap the rotolo from the tea towel – be careful – and cut into thick slices. Arrange in a bowl and cover with the butter and sage sauce.
This healthy pumpkin and ricotta rotolo is perfect as an entree or as a larger serving for a main meal. Of course, adding the butter takes away the really healthy part, but it tastes good, and of course, it is completely optional.
If you know of others who would love to make this recipe too, please feel free to share and pin.
Kerri now travels regularly with her husband, Stirling, where eating great food, drinking quality beer and wine, and cooking international foods are integral to their adventures.