Baked Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo
 
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Rotolo is a lessor known Italian pasta dish where a filling is rolled up in pasta sheets then rolled like a roulade, poached, sliced then served. It is so tasty, but quite technical and time consuming to make. This is my version - a baked version which is made more like cannelloni. Much easier, just as tasty and best of all, you get crunchy brown bits you don't get with the traditional rotolo!
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 fresh lasagne sheets (15cm/6" x 11cm/4.5")
  • ½ cup Mozarella cheese, shredded
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Filling
  • 250g/8oz frozen spinach (pre chopped)
  • 500g/1lb ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ fresh nutmeg, grated (or ⅛ tsp nutmeg powder)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Black pepper
Tomato Sauce
  • 700g/24oz passata (pureed tomatoes) (Note 4)
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Handful basil leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Tomato Sauce
  1. Heat oil in a 22cm/9" ovenproof pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add garlic and sauté for 10 seconds then add onion.
  3. Cook onion until translucent and starting to turn golden, then add the remaining Tomato Sauce ingredients.
  4. Simmer for 2 minutes to bring the flavours together, then remove from heat.
  5. Scoop out 1 cup of the Tomato Sauce which will be used to drizzle over the dish at the end.
Filling
  1. Defrost the spinach in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.
  2. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach using your hands, then place in a large bowl.
  3. Add remaining Filling ingredients and mix well to combine. I find it easiest (fastest) to do this with my hands.
Assembling
  1. As per the photo, lay out the lasagne sheet with the shorter end in front of you. The reason is that you want to roll these up so they are fatter than cannelloni.
  2. Place ⅓ cup (packed) of filling onto the lasagne sheet. Dab some water on the end furthest away from you (to seal the roll), then roll up starting from the end closest to you. Finish with the seal down.
  3. Continue with remaining lasagne sheets.
  4. Cut rolls into 3 (so each piece is 3.5cm/1.5" wide).
  5. Place the rolls into the tomato sauce with the filling facing up.
  6. Drizzle the reserved Tomato Sauce over the rotolo, then bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and scatter the mozzarella over. Return to oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
  8. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
1. Don't worry if your lasagne sheets are not exactly the same size, so long as they are the right size for rolling up (or cut to size) you can use any size you want.
2. Passata is pureed tomato, thinner than tomato paste and smoother than crushed tomatoes. You can substitute with crushed tomatoes but you will need to add about ⅓ cup of water when simmering the sauce otherwise it will dry out too much when baking.
3. You can substitute the frozen with fresh spinach if you want. You will need 200g/7oz of fresh spinach. Add it raw to the filling mixture, but before doing so you will need to squeeze it (a handful at at time) to get the excess liquid out, otherwise your filling will be watery.
4. Tomato passata is just pureed canned tomatoes. Nowadays it is readily available in supermarkets, usually alongside pasta sauces. It costs just a tiny bit more, sometimes the same, as canned tomatoes. If you can't find it, puree canned tomatoes or use crushed canned tomatoes.
5. To make ahead, this is best frozen before baking. Assemble the dish but do not put the cheese on (because if you bake it the whole time with the cheese, the cheese will burn), freeze in an airtight container, then defrost completely before baking (follow the recipe instructions). You will probably need to add 5 minutes to the baking time.

If you freeze it after baking it: defrost completely then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of water (most of it over the pasta sauce) per 6 pieces of rotolo before reheating. If you reheat it in the microwave, stick it under the grill/broiler for a few minutes (after reheating it) to make the top crunchy again, and I also recommend adding some fresh cheese, just to freshen the dish up. To reheat it in the oven, reheat at 180C/300F covered until just warmed through. Then remove the cover, scatter over some fresh cheese then return to oven until the top is crunchy, the cheese melted and the rotolo is heated through.
Recipe by RecipeTin Eats at http://www.recipetineats.com/baked-spinach-ricotta-rotolo/