Baked Pasta-Roses with Stracchino cheese and ham.
A few days ago I was searching for a recipe for ‘pasta al forno’ (baked pasta). I wanted to find something traditional, perhaps unusual, and using a different type of pasta to the ones already on this blog. That isn’t to say that I won’t be posting different recipes for each pasta shape. I will! But, my main goal when I started was to blog about the great variety of pasta to be found here in Italy. Apparently there are more than 360 different shapes, so I’ve a long way to go!
A unique baked pasta recipe.
Anyway, I came across a recipe for baked pasta-roses that begged to be tried, even though it doesn’t fall under any particular category of pasta. There is, however, a similar dish to the recipe I followed which is traditional in Emilia-Romagna. There, it is also called pasta-roses or, more commonly, ‘Nidi di Rodine’, meaning swallows’ nests. The recipe for swallows’ nests is very similar to mine except they normally use fontina cheese and only cooked ham. (I did one dish with cooked ham and one with Parma ham and used stracchino cheese).
I was really glad I had decided not to be too strict with myself on what dishes to blog about because this baked pasta was a winner! My final result (the roses) didn’t look quite as artistic as the photos I saw online, but the taste was superb and the men in my life loved it. The recipe called for sheets of homemade pasta, about 40x 30 cm. Not being very good at making my own pasta (although I want to get the hang of it eventually), I bought ready cut fresh lasagna sheets, rolled the ingredients inside them and cut each rolled sheet into three. Thank God in Italy fresh pasta is readily available! This recipe can also be made with dry lasagna sheets, of course, but they need to be partially cooked in boiling salted water and then allowed to cool before continuing with making the roses. Whichever type of pasta you chose to use, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the result!
- Ingredients for the Roses
- 250 g stracchino cheese
- 100 g thin cooked ham slices or thinly sliced Parma ham
- 150 g of fresh thin lasagna sheets
- Ingredients for the Bechamel
- 50 g sifted all-purpose flour
- 70 g grated parmesan cheese
- 600 ml fresh milk
- salt and pepper to taste.
- First make the bechamel.
- Put 100ml of cold milk into a bowl and dissolve the flour into it.
- Bring the rest of the milk to the boil
- Add salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.
- Just as the milk starts to boil add the cold milk and flour mixture, turn down the heat and stir continuously until it starts to thicken and to prevent lumps forming.
- When the bechamel has reached a good thickness add 50g of parmesan and continue to stir until the cheese has melted into the bechamel.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool covered with cling film.
- Put a pasta sheet onto a floured board.
- Cover generously with stracchino cheese.
- Cover the stracchino with a slice/slices of ham.
- Once the bechamel is tepid cover the narrower end of the pasta sheet with a spoonful of bechamel.
- Roll the sheet into a swiss roll shape.
- Repeat this process with all the pasta sheets and the rest of the ham and cheese.
- Coat the bottom of an oven dish with bechamel.
- Cut the pasta rolls into 3 pieces ( each about 4-5 cm wide) and place side by side in the oven dish.
- Pour the remaining bechamel over the pasta roses and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan.
- Cover with aluminium foil and cook at 180° in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the aluminium foil and cook for another 10 minutes until the top becomes golden and crispy.
- Serve with extra grated parmesan if desired
- Buon Appetito!
- You can also use dry lasagna sheets for this recipe but they will need to be partially cooked and cooled before making the roses.
- This recipe is not traditional but very similar to a traditional recipe from Emilia-Romagna, 'Nidi di Rodine' (swallows' nests) in which fontina cheese and only cooked ham is used.
- It is also possible to use ricotta or other soft cheeses and a vegetarian version could include spinach instead of ham.