I had started the day thinking I would make ravioli filled with roast pumpkin and ricotta. Somehow my day began to back up on itself and before long it was mid-afternoon. The pumpkin was roasted but I hadn’t even started making my pasta. So I reverted to Plan B. Rotolo. A very traditional Italian stuffed and rolled pasta dish. Lightly poached, then sliced and baked in the oven. A fancy pasta bake in my books. Definitely a much easier proposition to filling, stamping and crimping somewhere in the vicinity of 60 individual ravioli.
I persisted with making fresh pasta sheets for my rotolo. Well worth the effort as it really doesn’t take much time and does produce a lighter result. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute fresh lasagne sheets purchased from the chiller section of the supermarket. If the pasta sheets look too thick, just roll them a little thinner using a rolling pin, or better still a pasta machine if you have one.
These little slices of rotolo are delicious but deceptively rich and filling. A little goes a long way. Perfect fare to bid farewell to Autumn and welcome Winter.
Roast Pumpkin and Ricotta Rotolo with a Sage Burnt Butter Sauce.
2 cups (300 grams) tipo 00 flour, plus extra for dusting
PLACE flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add eggs and stir with a fork until mixture just comes together.
TURN onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth and elastic for about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes. Set aside until required.
DIVIDE the dough into four equal pieces. Dust with flour and flatten with the palm of your hand.
USING a pasta machine each piece of dough through the widest setting of the pasta machine (my machine has 9 settings 1 being the widest and 9 the narrowest) four or five times , folding the dough in half lengthways each time you feed it through the rollers. This step laminates the dough and makes the pasta smooth and elastic.
CONTINUE feeding the pasta through the machine, reducing the setting notch by notch. Each sheet of pasta needs to pass through each setting only once. I like to stop rolling at setting 7 when the pasta sheet is about 2 – 3 mm-thick.
LAY the rolled pasta sheets on a clean tablecloth lightly dusted with flour. Cover with a tea towel until ready to assemble the rotolo.
Pumpkin and Ricotta Filling
1 butternut pumpkin (about 900gm), cut into 2cm pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
750 grams ricotta
½ cup (40 grams) finely grated parmesan, plus extra for serving
½ finely grated nutmeg
PREHEAT oven to 180 C. Place pumpkin in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with dried chilli flakes, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Roast until pumpkin is soft, about 45 minutes. Set aside.
STRAIN ricotta through a fine sieve into a large bowl to remove any excess moisture. Once strained combine well with egg, parmesan and nutmeg. Season to taste. Set aside.
To Assemble the Rotolo
LAY the pasta sheets side by side, overlapping slightly, to form a 30 cm x 60 cm rectangle. Trim ends and brush the long edges with water, pressing lightly to join the edges.
SPREAD the ricotta mixture evenly over the pasta sheet, leaving a 2cm border. Arrange pumpkin over ricotta and then, with longest side facing you, and using the tablecloth as a guide, carefully roll the pasta to enclose the filling (much like a Swiss roll or roulade).
WRAP the rotolo in a clean tea towel lined with a sheet of baking paper and secure the ends with string.
PLACE in a deep roasting pan or fish kettle. Fill with enough boiling water to completely cover the rotolo. Add sea salt to the water and simmer gently until pasta is al dente. About 20 minutes.
CAREFULLY remove to a chopping board and stand for 10 minutes. Gently unwrap, trim ends, then cut into 8 even slices with a sharp knife.
TO SERVE place slices of rotolo in a ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle with grated parmesan. Bake in a hot 180 C oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
DRIZZLE plated rotolo with burnt butter sauce and garnish with crisp sage leaves.
Sage Burnt Butter Sauce
80 grams unsalted butter
16 sage leaves
juice of half a lemon
MELT butter in a pan over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown. Add the sage leaves and stir for 30 seconds until crisp. Remove sage from pan and drain well on paper towels,
TAKE the pan off the heat, squeeze half a lemon into the burnt butter sauce and pour immediately into a serving jug.