To me, there is something reassuring and hopeful about food that's encased. Ravioli, pies, struddels, pasties. Food that says 'I know I look beautiful on the outside, but the real treasure is what you'll discover inside'.
I think the first time I ever heard about a rotolo was from a Jamie Oliver recipe made with spinach. As soon as I saw the concept of a pasta roll, it occured to me that some of my favourite ingredients could be encased in this way. Goats cheese is one such ingredient. Its salty, tangy, smooth creaminess is something I can never get enough of and combined with the sweetness of roasted pumpkin, it really is a marriage made in heaven.
Rotolo, is essentially your ingredients of choice rolled in a pasta sheet then wrapped in cloth and simmered in boiling water until the pasta is cooked. It can be sliced and served with a sauce to compliment or the slices of rotolo can be fried as I've done here to achieve a crispy top and bottom.
Rotolo makes an ideal dinner party dish as it truly looks impressive when brought out to the table. It can also be made ahead of time on the day and left to chill until needed at which time it can quickly be fried in the olive oil and butter in a matter of minutes.
You can go a step further and make your own pasta sheet for this. In my case, I didn't have time so I used bought fresh lasagne sheets. The point of this dish however is that it's what is inside that truly shines so you can save the homemade pasta for when it really counts if you are strapped for time.
The goat cheese makes this a rich dish so you don't need a lot of it. A simple green salad with an acidic dressing will compliment the rotolo and help to cut through the richness.
Roasted Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Rotolo
Serves 4 as an entrée or 2 as a main meal
½ butternut pumpkin/squash, peeled and diced into approx. 1cm cubes
120gm goats cheese
¼ cup pine nut kernels
1 fresh lasagne sheet
2 tsp butter
2Tbs olive oil plus extra for pumpkin
You will also need:
1 clean tea towel or muslin cloth
Kitchen string; 4 lengths of string approx 20 cm
1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. In a baking tray lined with baking paper, spread the cubed pumpkin and drizzle lightly with olive oil and S&P. Roast the pumpkin in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes until it is golden brown.
3. Toast the pine nuts in a non stick pan over medium heat until toasted and golden brown.
4. Lay out the tea towel on a bench or board. Lay the lasagne sheet on top of the tea towel.
5. Spread the roasted pumpkin on top of the lasagne sheet. Follow by a layer of the goat cheese. Finally, spread a layer of the toasted pine nuts over the cheese.
6. Lifting the edge of the tea towel away from you, roll the lasagne sheet into a roll similar to a jam sponge roll.
7. Once rolled, ensure the rotolo is wrapped in the tea towel. Secure the ends of the rotolo by twisting the tea towel and tying with the kitchen string at both ends. Use the remaining two lengths of kitchen string to secure the middle of the rotolo. You should end up with something resembling a bon bon.
8. In a pan that is long enough to accommodate the rotolo, bring sufficient water to the boil that will cover the rotolo. Add the rotolo to the boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 mins on low to medium heat.
9. Remove the rotolo from the pan. Place on a plate. Cut and remove the kitchen string. Remove the tea towel and refrigerate the rotolo for about 15 minutes to cool slightly.
10. Cut the cooled rotolo into approx 4cm widths.
11. In a hot pan, add the olive oil and butter. Fry the rotolo on each side for a couple of minutes until golden brown.
12. Serve the rotolo with a simple green salad.