Even though the weather here has gotten cooler, our garden hasn’t gotten the memo. Our herbs, raspberries, tomatoes and eggplants are growing as if it isn’t going down to 6 degrees every night. We have more sage than I know what to do with. I have a bunch hanging in my kitchen in an attempt to dry it out, but drying out sage doesn’t smell like sage, it smells funky. Oh well, I’ll let you know how that goes.
I wanted to make something with fall flavours, like pumpkin, and decided to make this roasted pumpkin, spinach and ricotta rotolo for dinner. What did I learn from this experience? This recipe is very time consuming and involved and unless you are an experienced pasta maker and own a pasta machine, skip the pasta part (in fact, I’m not even going to give you the “pasta” recipe). Buy pre-made fresh lasagne sheets and make smaller versions of the rotolo with the thin, fresh, store-bought pasta. It will be a much more tender and thinner rotolo and your ingredients (not the “pasta”) will be showcased. I picked up some mini-tomatoes (not only cherry, but grape, and one that looked like a pear) at the farmer’s market on the weekend and decided to slow roast them to eat on the side of this new dish. What a great decision that was. The tomatoes were little morsels of garlicky goodness and I purposely made too many so that we could enjoy them today on our homemade pizza.
Recipe adapted from Vegetarian by Alice Hart.
Pumpkin, Spinach and Ricotta Rotolo
- store bought fresh lasagna sheets
- 2 cubes peeled, deseeded and cubed pumpkin
- 6-7 leaves of sage, chopped in chiffonade
- salt and pepper
- 1 heaping cup of ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 large handfuls of spinach
- 1/3 stick of butter
- 1 pint of small tomatoes
- olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Place pumpkin, olive oil, sage, salt and pepper on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast in oven, turning occasionally for 40 minutes.
- Once finished, place your tomatoes on a different parchment lined baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and the minced garlic. Roast at 300 F for as long as you can, 2 hours or more, mine were in while I was cooking the rest of this meal. If you are short on time, put them in at the same time as the pumpkin and just watch so they don’t burn.
- Combine ricotta and parmesan in a bowl with the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir well, set aside.
- Wilt the spinach in a Tbsp of butter in a hot pan, then set aside.
- Bring a large, deep pan of water to a boil, or more if you are making mini-rotolos.
- Place a sheet of pasta on a clean dish-towel (or cheesecloth if you have it). Spread the ricotta mixture on the sheet of pasta, leaving a border of about 2 cm. Arrange the spinach over the ricotta so that most places are covered. Repeat with the pumpkin and sage leaves.
- Roll up the rotolo and then roll the dishtowel around the rotolo. Use 3-4 pieces of kitchen string and tie up the rotolo so that it is tightly covered.
- Place in boiling water and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from pan, cut off strings and carefully unroll the cloth from the rotolo. Dump the water from the pan, and place the rest of the butter in the pan, on medium heat. Cut the rotolo into slice sizes that you want to eat (ours were about 3 cm), and then place, cut-side down on the hot buttered pan and fry until just golden. If you want to add more sage to the dish, add it to the hot butter just before you add the rotolo. Remove from pan, place on plate with some slow roasted tomatoes, and enjoy!
As we get closer to Hallowe’en and Thanksgiving here in Canada, pumpkins are showing up everywhere – make sure you buy the small ones which are meant for cooking, not the big jack-o-lantern ones! If you’ve got a bit of time to make dinner, and want to try something different, give rotolo a try. You’re in for a dish that is hearty and flavourful and, with the ricotta, a perfect match for vegetables that are a pleasure to eat!