A great meal, especially Pasta "Roses" by Marcella Hazan
I wanted to share a recipe I made for a dinner party last night. This recipe comes from Marcella Hazan's "Marcella's Italian Kitchen." Essentially they are pasta "roses" (rolled lasagne noodles) and inside the rolled up noodles is fontina cheese and ham. There is alight cream sauce with tomato paste mixed in. I served these pasta roses as part of a multi course Italian meal. Our guests absolutely loved the roses and it makes for an impressive presentation in addition to tasting really good. (The paraphrased recipe is below for those of you who want to try it.)
We started with crostini spread with a mixture of creamy gorgonzola cheese, chopped pine nuts, butter and parsley, with some whole pine nuts folded in. I baked these at 400 until the bread was crispy and the cheese mixture bubbly. The second course was a seafood salad (calamari, shrimp and mussels) tossed with watermelon radishes and parsley in a dressing with lemon juice, olive oil a smashed garlic clove (which I removed before serving)and a pinch of red chile flakes and served over butter lettuce leaves. The next course was the pasta roses and some asparagus. We live in SF so are getting lovely asparagus in our farmer's market already, so I just blanched the asparagus, then softened some shallots in butter in a saute pan, added fresh orange juice and reduced it and poured it over the asparagus and grated some orange zest over the top. Dessert was chocolate espresso with homemade raspberry sauce.
Here is the recipe for the pasta roses:
Roselline di Pasta alla Romagnola (Pasta Roses with Ham and Fontina)Serves 6
about 1 pound fresh pasta sheets, cut about 4" wide and 10" long
4 T unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 T tomato paste
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1 1/2 lbs boiled, unsmoked ham, sliced very thin* (see note below about ham)
1 pound fontina, shredded ** (see note below about fontina)
about 3 T grated parmigiano-reggiano
Cook the pasta strips 2 or 3 at a time in boiling salted water for a few seconds, then remove from the water with a spider and shock in ice water. Rinse each pasta strip well in cold water and rub together to remove as much starch as possibleas Marcella says, "as if you are doing a fine laundry." Lay the strips out on the counter on a towel and repeat with the remaining strips.
Preheat the oven to 450. Put butter and cream in a small saucepan and heat to medium and reduce the cream a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and the nutmeg and whisk lightly to dissolve the tomato paste, continuing to cook to thicken the sauce to about buttermilk consistency, about another 5 minutes. Spread a thin layer of the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
On each pasta strip, place a single layer of sliced ham and then cover with a layer of cheese. My ham slices were exactly 4" wide so no trimming was necessary, but the ham should fit the slice without overlapping it on the sides. Roll up the pasta like a jelly roll and place seam-side down on the towel while you do the other rolls. After you have done all the rolls, cut them in half so they are about 2" thick. Then with a paring knife on one side of each ring, make an "X" about 1/2" deep. This will help the roses "bloom." (Mine didn't bloom as much as I wanted, but they still looked very pretty.)
Put the roses in the baking dish with the cross cuts face up and distribute the remaining sauce over them with a pastry brush. Press down a bit on the roses to help them open slightly. Sprinkle with the parmigiano-reggiano and bake for about 15 minutes, until a light crust forms on top. Let them sit for about 5 minutes before serving. (Everything but the baking can be done in advance, just make sure that if you make it ahead and refrigerate it that it's at room temperature before you put it in the oven.)
* The hamI used an Italian boiled unsmoked ham from my neighborhood Italian deli. The quality of the ham is important in this dish so use something really good.
** The fontinaI used imported fontina from my neighborhood Italian deli. The recipe called for it to be thinly sliced, but fontina, even when frozen for a bit, is tough to thinly slice and I think shredding it on the grater with the big holes would work just fine.
Hi - question that has bothered me for years: what does MH mean by boiled unsmoked ham? Surely not the tasteless boiled American ham from deli counter in my supermarket. The market does have packaged Citterio prosciutto, which is unsmoked but probably not boiled (pkg doesn't specify), and I,m guessing that,s not what she means either. Thanks for help.
My sister lives in the north of Italy and she makes something similar: Crepes Valdostane. They are crepes folded over fontina and sliced ham with bechamel on top of them and baked in the oven. They are very good. I tried looking for a recipe online but all I found was meat valdostane :o(
Thanks for sharing the experience. I have never made that pasta dish but have thought about it often enough. It does look lovely in the book.
If you haven't already tried it, her recipe for canneloni with ham and asparagus is fantastic, too. Elegant and luscious.
I thought I would share my variation on the crostini with gorgonzola and pine nuts. I substitute an equal amount of walnut pieces for the pine nuts, rounding the measure since they are lumpier than pine nuts. They are more flavorful, and I like the combination.
By the way, do use use gorgonzola picante or dolce? I've tried both but don't have a strong preference either way.
Walnuts would be a good substitute. I like all nuts but macadamias so would be happy with just about anything, especially with gorgonzola.
My preference with this is gorgonzola dolce because you want a creamy spread and the dolce is already halfway there. I like picante more for eating on its own in a cheese course.
I have the canneloni with ham and asparagus on my list, now that asparagus is in season . . .
Thanks, this sounds like another Marcella winner! One of those dishes where I'm lusting for an accompanying photo. Enjoyed your description of your wonderful meal. Just bought some asparagus and oranges from my farmer's market yesterday, so may use your preparation.
Quick question: Do you think this would work ok w/ 2 in. wide noodles from a box, increasing the initial blanching time? Not really clear on why you need 4 in. wide noodles if you eventually cut them in half. Thanks.
re: Carb Lover
As Marcella herself often says, "It's all about the pasta." Her homemade pasta is extraordinarly thin and silky. I just can't believe this dish would have the same delicacy, or proportionality, if made with drid pasta. It may well be tasty, but it wouldn't be the same texturally.
re: Carb Lover
I think that it would work with dried pasta but wouldn't have the same texture, just like if you make a sauce with fresh fettuccine, for example, it has a different texture than dried fettuccine. Not bad, just not the same as the fresh.
Sorry I don't have a photo--I will tell you that I am working on a blog so hopefully within a month or so I will have the capability to link to a photo. There is a beautiful photo of the dish in the cookbook which is what inspired me to pick that particular dish.
I think Marcella has you cut it because when you make homemade pasta (and use a pasta machine), it comes off the machine in 4" strips!! (At least, when I asked myself the same question that's how I answered it.)