Do you ever read something, listen to a song or cook something you think is different, unique and then all of a sudden it is everywhere??
Well that’s what happened to me with this pasta bake.
While meal planning one week last month, I selected Jamie Oliver’s Save with Jamie cookbook for inspiration and recipes for the week. Scanning the photos and recipes a pasta dish caught my eye Squash and Spinach Pasta Rotolo… it looked like a cross between lasagna rolls and cannelloni, an intriguing weeknight dish and a fun take on the standard pasta bake.
Who doesn’t love a pasta bake?
Since I first saw this usual pasta bake last month is has been everywhere… Okay not everywhere but in two places, which is basically everywhere – right?! One Saturday morning there was Jamie on the food network cooking his rotolo. And the following week on Australia’s My Kitchen Rules there was one of the team contestants making… you guessed it rotolo! I mean what are the odds? A month a go I had never heard of rotolo, this month it is all over my television and all in my tummy.
So it may not be so unique. That’s okay the best part about this meal is that it is completely and utterly fun. It is fun to say, fun to make, fun to eat – fun, fun, fun.
Traditional rotolo is actually quite technical and totally fussy, because you then need to wrap the pasta roulade in a tea towel and poach it, then slice it to serve with a sauce. As I said fussy. Jamie’s version much easier – wrapping up pre-made pasta sheets to cook in a jar of pre-made. Easy peasy for weeknight dinner. All the deliciousness, with none of the fuss.
You may notice that these sheets are standing tall in the stand. These are pasta sheets cut in half, not quartered like Jamie’s original recipe and others you may find online. The first time I made this dish one of my favorite things were the brown crispy bits that were poking out of the sauce once baked. Honestly I love crunchy baked pasta, so to capitalize on the crispy good bits, I decided to experiment with only halving the pasta sheets. AND the result was amazing or what we now call pasta tacos.
- 1 butternut squash, halved
- ½ sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 500 g frozen spinach
- 2 Italian sausage links, casings removed, crumbled
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jar (700 mL) passata sauce
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 6 large fresh pasta sheets (roughly 0.5 cm x 20 cm each)
- ½ cup creamy ricotta
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese + extra for serving
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cook the squash halved on a roasting tray for around 1 hour 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.*
- Saute the sausage, breaking into small pieces as it cooks. Remove from heat, place sausage meat on paper towel and set aside.
- Put the diced onion in a medium pan on a medium-low heat with olive oil, the thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the frozen spinach, cover with a lid and allow to cook for another 15 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and stir through sausage meat.
- Cut the squash in half, discard the seeds, and then mash up with a fork.
- Keeping the spinach mixture and squash separate, season both if necessary.
- Put minced garlic and olive oil in oven proof pan on a medium heat and fry for 2 minutes till fragrant. Pour in the passata, then add ⅓ cup of water to the empty jar, swirl it around and pour it into the pan. Bring to the boil, simmer.
- To assemble the rotolo set up a work surface with pasta sheets, spinach mixture, squash, ricotta, and a bowl of water.
- Lay out the pasta sheets facing lengthways away from you. Brush the pasta on both sides with water, then evenly divide and spread the squash over the sheets. The spread over the cooked spinach and sausage mixture and finish by spreading the ricotta along the middle lengthwise.
- Roll up the sheets and cut in half*, then place side by side in the tomato sauce. Finely grate over the Parmesan over top. Cover with foil and place in the oven.
- Bake for 35 minutes, removing the foil after 15 minutes.
*The original recipe states to cut pasta into 4 rolls. We preferred cutting in half, they held together better and the texture mix between the soft pasta and crunchy bits was great.