OMG, this is my 200th post! Who knew I could do it? 'Never mind that, who knew I'd live long enough to enjoy solar rotolone! Most Italian mamas save Rotolone for special occasions because the preparation is so intensive -- but, so well worth it. A traditional spinach-ricotta cheese filling makes this uber delicious. My garden spinach wasn't ready, so I used some fresh collards from my daughter's garden and the result was fantastic. If you would like to know more about rotolone, here's Marta Manceau of Umbria, Italy, giving step-by-step instructions on how she makes what used to be Tenor Luciano Pavarotti's favorite dish.
I made fresh pasta, sauteed the filling, and parboiled the filled roll on the range top for a few minutes before the first baking was done in the solar oven. The collards were sliced crosswise, then chopped, and cooked on high in the microwave for about five minutes, and then allowed to cool -- and, you'll see why they had to cool, in a moment.
Homemade pasta dough: 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour, a large pinch of salt, two medium eggs, and a teaspoon of olive oil. It all went into the food processor and run until it pulled away from the sides forming a ball of dough. I plopped it onto my pastry board dusted with a little flour and gave that old dough ball about ten full kneads, wrapped it in a clean cotton towel and let it rest for about 30 minutes. I used the resting time to prepare my own rotolone filling. You don't have to use all the herbs that I do. I just love to blend my garden-fresh herbs to see what happens. Collards can be bitter, so don't leave out the stevia or your favorite sweetener.
1/4 pound bacon, fried and crumbled (optional fat)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
5 ozs chopped shitake mushrooms, drained and dry
2 cups collards, cooked
2 T fresh chopped chives
1.5 T fresh chopped oregano
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
2 tsps fresh chopped Italian parsley
1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp fresh chopped ginger (optional)
1/2 tsp fresh chopped lavender
1 tsp fresh chopped basil
1/2 tsp fresh chopped stevia
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 T corn starch
2 medium eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup butter
1 T fresh chopped sage
Directions: Cook bacon over medium heat; remove and drain on paper towels. Saute onion, shallot, and garlic in bacon grease until just beginning to brown; add mushrooms, stir and cook for another minute or so, and add the crumbled bacon. Remove from heat and add to bowl of collards; let cool. In small bowl, combine all the herbs and spices with corn starch; set aside.
When collard mixture is cooled; place in food processor and add herb mixture and eggs. (The eggs would have cooked if added to the hot collards.) Pulse until smooth; pour into large bowl and fold in cheeses and breadcrumbs. Preheat solar oven to 225F.
Putting it all together!
From short edge, gently roll pasta and filling into a long tube. Cut ends even and use a fork to seal. Wet top edge of pasta and press against roll.
Gently roll rotolone into a double-thick cheesecloth roll and secure ends with kitchen string or rubber bands. Fill deep six-quart pot or wide high-sided skillet with salted water and bring to boil.
Place rotolone in boiling water, slowly, and it will ease itself to fit contours of the pot. I had my Dutch oven with more boiling water at the side so that the roll would be completely covered. But, this was a big roll and I wanted to heat it through and curve a little more before submerging it into the deeper pot so that the pasta wouldn't break and ooze out filling, as well as bring down the boiling water already in the pot. After approximately three minutes, it was firm enough to transfer to the Dutch oven. Cover and let cook in solar oven for approximately 50 minutes.
Remove rotolone from solar oven and gently remove cheesecloth cover. Slice into rounds and place in baking dish. Melt butter and chopped sage leaves together; pour over rotolone. Return to solar oven and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Lift lower corner of solar oven door with a matchstick to reduce condensation. If not brown enough for you, place under broiler for a minute or use your kitchen torch.
Be nice and share. I served this with kernel corn and top sirloin. It's very rich and you could actually just serve the rotolone with a fresh salad by increasing the portions.
By adding a touch of stevia, the collards were a great substitution for the customary spinach and the herb blend was delicious. But, the buttery sage topping moves it into the sublime. You can see how this is a dish for special occasions. No doubt about it, it's work intensive, but, oh, so, yummy! I hope you'll give it a try. Who know? You could end up singing like Pavarotti! I can just hear him singing, "Happy 200th Posting, to You..." to me. Can't you?