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Mar 17, 2008 06:38 AM

Need recipe for "Birds Nests"

Many years ago I went to Italy with my family, mainly the San Marino area. I still recall a dish we had and I would like to recreate it. I will describe it: Long narrow lasagna noodles rolled and filled with white sauce, ham, peas, red sauce. The "rolls" were served on the side so it resembled a spiraled birds nest. I do not recall if there was any cheese involved. Has anyone ever had or made anything similar? My Nonna always called them Birds Nests but I have had no luck researching them under that title. Thanks

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  1. I checked Silver Spoon, but nothing--here is my guess: I would make a white sauce (in the area of Italy where I teach, a secret is to add a good dallop of mascarpone once the white sauce is off the heat. Also, be sure to cook the flour and butter mixture for the white sauce a good three to four minutes, so that it tastes delicious before the milk goes in.
    Buy the best fresh pancetta you can find (or if you are near Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the smoked bacon at Nassau Meat market is a great substitute). Cube it, cook in a little olive oil just for about two minutes over medium heat, and add to the white sauce along with uncooked frozen peas (of course if you have fresh, use fresh, just boil them for a few minutes and drain well). Give the white sauce a good handful (to taste) of Parmigiano Reggiano, a tiny grate of nutmeg, and a grind of black pepper. Taste for salt.
    I imagine you are going to have to make your lasagna noodles for it to come out right. If you just don't have the time, try using the Barilla no cook lasagna and cooking them just til flexible.) This dish sounds like it is very simple, but all about the noodle. Making them is not too hard. Just make a little well of 2 cups of flour, crack in 2 eggs, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix that together with fork, inside the well, then slowly incorporate into the flour. Knead for five minutes til smooth, let rest for 15 minutes under a tea towel, then roll through a pasta machine, or on the table with your rolling pin. Cut to the width you remember them to be. Cook for just a minute, then cool a bit. Coat them lightly with a simple red sauce of san marzano tomatoes (whole, canned and crushed by hand) garlic and basil, Roll into spirals, and set them into buttered and breadcrumbed pan. Drizzle a little more red sauce around the edges. Fill the centers with your white sauce (remember to make the white a little thick so that it stays in the nests. I would use 4 tablespoon of butter, almost half a cup of flour, and maybe 2 cups of milk plus salt). Bake in a 400 degree oven covered til heated through, then maybe a little bit of parm on the top when you take the foil off, and stick it under the broiler for a minute, watching it like a hawk.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fayehess

      Fayehess, thank you so much for working this out for me. Luckily I do make my own pasta and I have some in the freezer right now. I will try this and report back.