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Jamie Oliver recommends you practice this recipe before serving for a crowd and we agree. We cooked this about a year ago for our friends Rob and Megan and while the flavours and presentation were great we made the pasta just a bit too thick. Second time around we slimmed down the pasta, with the help of our new pasta machine and it improved dramatically, but we miscalculated the width so had to trim the rotolo after rolling. So Jono’s tips for success:

  • You need a fish kettle;
  • make the pasta very thin, but not quite as thin as usual (we used setting 6 instead of 8). Jamie says the thickness of a beer mat, but make it a fraction thinner than this;
  • measure the width of your rotolo against the fish kettle before constructing it – allow a little of pasta at the edge to keep it sealed nicely; and
  • this takes ages, but it’s really worth it, tastes great and looks super impressive.

First you need to make some fresh pasta so here’s a recipe for that:

  • 600g type 00 flour
  • 6 eggs or 12 yolks (the 12 yolks makes a richer, more yellow pasta)
Put the flour on a board, make a well in the centre and crack the eggs into the well. Use a fork to beat the eggs until smooth. Mix the eggs with the flour as much as possible so it’s not too sticky and start to knead. It’s actually quite hard to knead pasta dough but keep at it for about 10 minutes and it will come together and form a smooth, silky and elastic dough. Cover with cling film and rest for an hour.
Rotolo di zucca e ricota (Rotolo of spinach and ricotta)
  • 455g fresh egg pasta dough (see above)
  • half a butternut squash, deseeded
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • half a dried red chilli or half a tsp of chilli flakes
  • a handful of fresh marjoram or oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 800g spinach, washed
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • a third of a nutmeg, grated
  • 150g ricotta cheese, crumbled
  • 55g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 20 fresh sage leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7. Chop the squash into big chunks and rub them with a little olive oil. Bash coriander seeds, fennel seeds and chilli in a mortar and pestle with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Dust this over the squash and put into a snug fitting roasting dish or tray. Cover with a piece of damp greaseproof paper and roast for 30 minutes. Take off the paper and continue to roast for another 15-20 minutes or until golden.
  2. Heat a large pan and add a little olive oil, the marjoram or oregano and the garlic. Toss around for 20 seconds before adding the spinach. Keep moving the spinach and add a couple of knobs of butter and the nutmeg after a minute or two. Cook until the moisture has cooked away, then season to taste and leave to cool.
  3. Roll the pasta using a pasta machine into long thin strips (see tip above). Stick the strips together using a little water. Keep it in a rectangular shape but trim off as you need. Lay onto a  clean tea towel (remember to measure the long side against your kettle).
  4. Spoon a line of squash along the long edge of the sheet. Sprinkle the spinach over the rest of the sheet leaving the top 5cm clear. Crumble the ricotta over the spinach and sprinkle over the Parmesan. Brush the clear edge of the pasta with a little water then use the near edge of the tea towel to roll the pasta up and away from you. Roll up in the tea towel and tie firmly at the end with kitchen string. Tie a few bits of string round the middle too to keep the shape and tie an extra bit of string at one end so it can hang out of the kettle and act as a handle.
  5. Fill the fish kettle with boiling salted water. Lower the rotolo in and use the fish kettle rack on top to keep it submerged. Simmer for at least 25 minutes.
  6. While the rotolo is cooking you need to clarify some butter. Put the remainder of the butter into an ovenproof dish and put in a low oven (about 80C/170F) for about 10 minutes or until clear and melted. The milky whey will have sunk to the bottom, discard any white bits from the top and spoon out the clear butter. Discard the whey. You’ll have too much but the leftovers can be used for roast potatoes another day.
  7. Put 3 tbsp of clarified butter into a small pan and heat it up. Add a sage leaf and if it fries nicely add the rest of the leaves and fry until they start to crisp. Keep to one side.
  8. Carefully remove the rotolo from the pan, remove the string, unroll the tea towel and slice it up. A couple of slices per portion. Scatter sage leaves and drizzle with the sage flavoured butter and grate some Parmesan over. Serve with a leafy salad.
(Original recipe from Jamie’s Italy)

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