Butternut and Spinach Rotolo

Jamie Oliver changed my life and will probably change yours too. Or, to clarify, if you don’t have a pasta maker, you can still make fresh pasta! (For me, that discovery is completely life-changing. I don’t ever want to go back to dried pasta.) So with just a rolling pin and some counter space, you can make this impressive dish, wow all your friends, and feel like a badass in the kitchen just like I did when we had the in-laws over for dinner the other night.

This is not only a visually stunning little dinner, it is also decently healthy (especially since I omitted HALF A POUND of butter from the original recipe) with both spinach and squash. The cooking method is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and that right there was what drew me to this recipe in the first place. You roll out a giant sheet of fresh pasta, sprinkle it with roasted squash, spinach, and ricotta, then roll it up in a towel, tie the ends, and simmer the entire thing for about 25 minutes. Then you unwrap the whole thing and cut it into slices to serve. Beautiful.

Recipe:
(adapted from Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver)

Pasta:
2 cups flour (pasta flour is recommended, but I just used unbleached all purpose and it was very good)
3 whole eggs
a nice big pinch of salt

Put the flour in a large bowl, sprinkle in the salt, and mix well with a fork.
Make a well in the center and crack the eggs into it. Using the fork, whisk the eggs without mixing in any flour until they’re smooth and yellow.
Once the eggs are beaten, mix them with the flour. Once it becomes too thick to stir, turn the whole thing out onto the counter and knead for about 8 minutes, or until the dough is very smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about half an hour, then proceed with the recipe.

Rotolo:
pasta, from above
1 small butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
olive oil
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fennel seeds
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium bunches of spinach (leaves only), roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup lowfat ricotta
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

First, preheat the oven to 425.
Crush the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestel, then mix in the cayenne and coriander, as well as a few pinches of salt.
Cut the squash into 2″ chunks, and rub them with a little olive oil.
Arrange the squash in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle them with the fennel mix. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20, or until easily pierced with a fork.
Remove the dish from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While the squash is roasting, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the spinach a few handfuls at a time, stirring constantly. Eventually it will cook down nicely and begin to give off some liquid. Once you’ve added all the spinach, stir in the butter and nutmeg, and add a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Take the pan off the heat.

To prepare the rotolo:
Make sure you have a clean dish towel and some kitchen twine handy.
Flour the counter and a rolling pin, and roll the pasta out so it’s about 10″ by 15″ and the thickness of one of those cheap cardboard coasters you find in a bar.
Carefully transfer the large sheet of pasta onto your clean towel so that there are a few inches of towel that extend beyond the pasta.
Scoop the squash flesh out of the peel and arrange it in a line on the long side of the rectangle closest to you.
Cover the remaining pasta with the spinach, but leave an inch or two opposite the squash uncovered. Dot that evenly with bits of ricotta, then sprinkle with parmesan.
Roll the pasta up like a jelly roll and roll the towel around it. Tie the ends securely with twine, then tie two more pieces of string partway along the roll to maintain the round shape.
Fill your biggest pan with about 6″ of water and add a few generous pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, then submerge the roll, in the towel, into the water, using a plate to keep it sumberged.
Simmer for 25 minutes, then remove the rotolo from the water.
Snip the strings, then carefully unroll the towel. Slice the rotolo into 1″ thick slices, then serve with grated parmesan on the side.

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7 comments to Butternut and Spinach Rotolo

  • Wow, I have never heard of such a thing but they sound amazing!

  • oh wow, that is so pretty – and I love spinach and butternut squash together. I’m recently a fresh pasta convert too, so I’m definitely going to try this!

  • Wow this looks just beautiful and sounds just amazing! What a neat recipe!

  • Amazing and the possibilities seem endless! Thanks for posting.

  • Wow, very cool! Looks beautiful. So fresh and delicious!

  • This looks so good! I adore Jamie Oliver, but I am also all too familiar with his love of butter and oil, so I’m not surprised you had to reduce it. I’m so intrigued by this, I’ll have to try it soon!

  • […] -This would be a great dinner party meal!  The presentation is beautiful and the main course cooks largely unattended.  The rotolo can remain in the hot dishtowel for 10 or so minutes before slicing and serving. -You may make the dough 24 hours prior -You may roast the squash 1-2 days prior -You may sautee spinach filling 1-2 days prior to cooking -You may assemble the entire mass 1 day before boiling -You may vary the filling, using meat or other veggies if desired. For another variation, see Cate’s World Kitchen […]

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