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Recipe for the Weekend: Rotolo di Spinaci

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This classic recipe is found all over Italy. It's a wonderful dish to make in advance, as you can assemble it a few hours ahead and then bake it when you need it. The pasta is laid out on a tea towel, covered with a filling of spinach and ricotta, then rolled up, wrapped in the tea towel and poached in a large pan of water.

It's very important to use a white tea towel - I once made a rotolo using a blue tea towel and the pasta came out blue, which went down very well with my friends. I still get teased about it.

Serve with a Soave Classico. Enjoy your weekend!

Ingredients - serves four

For the pasta dough

400 g '00' flour, plus extra for dusting
2 whole eggs
12 egg yolks
50 ml olive oil

For the tomato sauce

50 ml olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 400g canned chopped tomatoes
1 bunches basil, chopped

For the rotolo di spinachi

1 kg spinach
50 g butter
1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp chopped marjoram
500 g ricotta cheese
50 g freshly grated parmesan

Method

For the pasta dough

Place the flour, eggs, egg yolks and olive oil into a food processor and process for one minute, or until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Turn the dough out into a bowl, cover with cling film and place into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into two equal pieces. Lightly flour each piece and pass through a pasta machine several times, gradually reducing the thickness, until you reach the thinnest setting and the pasta feels smooth and elastic. Set aside on a tray and cover with a slightly damp tea towel until ready to use.

For the tomato sauce: heat the olive oil in a medium pan and gently fry the garlic over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in the basil and mix well.

For the rotolo di spinachi

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Blanch the spinach in a pan of boiling water for 1-2 minutes, or until wilted. Drain well and squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands, then finely chop.

Melt the butter in a medium pan until foaming, then add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the marjoram, chopped spinach and the ricotta cheese. Remove the pan from the heat and mix well before setting aside to cool.

Trim the pasta sheets into rectangles and place onto a large clean tea towel, overlapping them slightly to form one large rectangle (press the edges together to seal). Spread the spinach mixture over the pasta sheet, then roll up, using the tea towel to help wrap up the roll. Tie the ends of the towels with kitchen string.

Bring a large pan or fish kettle full of water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place the rolls into the water and poach for 20 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked. Remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes before unwrapping.

Slice the rolls into 1cm slices and place into a buttered earthenware dish or casserole, overlapping the slices slightly. Cover with the tomato sauce and sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.

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