Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Fresh Scent of Pasta Roses

As many of you know, I love roses....I'll make a rose out of anything. I love when life imitates art or nature. So twenty years ago when I saw a recipe by Marcella Hazan for Pasta Roses, I had no choice but to try it. Throughout the years, I've lightened it and adapted it to my taste. According to Marcella Hazan, the recipe originated in Romagna, Italy and is a stunning presentation of rolled pasta with a rosy cream sauce. It originated in a time and place where the gentle and yet robust art of cooking was more of a family affair. Engage a family member or friend while rolling your roses and you'll enjoy a meal made with love. Or you may make it yourself and dazzle them with your creation. This dish is an art and not a science. You may use long curly edged lasagna noodles, shorter and wider lasagna pasta or even fresh pasta. I used 3 x 7 inch flat lasagna pasta and cut it in half lengthwise after boiling. I even used any broken pieces to make "rosebuds". Just follow the basics and enjoy the fresh scent of Pasta Roses wafting from your kitchen.

Pasta Roses

1/2 pound lasagna pasta*, boiled "al dente" with 1 tablespoon oil
olive oil for coating pasta
1/2 pound ham, very thinly sliced
1/3 pound fontina cheese
1 1/2 cups red pasta sauce (use your favorite sauce)
1/2 cup cream or half and half
pinch of nutmeg
1/3 cup (about) grated Parmesan cheese

*use flat or curly edged lasagna pasta

You'll need a 7 x 11 inch baking dish.

Coat the boiled lasagna with olive oil so it doesn't stick together, and let cool. While the pasta cools, very thinly slice the fontina cheese in 1 inch strips.
Mix the red pasta sauce, cream, and a pinch of nutmeg together. Coat the bottom of the baking dish with this sauce.

When the pasta is cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. Lay a pasta length on a board and then add a thin 1 inch layer of ham and the cheese. It is not necessary to cover the whole piece, it should be somewhat sparsely placed. Then lightly roll the pasta, from the shorter side. Add the pasta rolls to the dish, with the open side of the roll at the top and bottom of the dish. Arrange the pasta so it is evenly spaced in the dish and loosen any rolls if needed. After adding all of the rolled pasta "roses" to the baking dish, top with the remaining sauce and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You may refrigerate it to bake later at this point. If you are baking right away, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top. If you are baking it from the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature before baking.

Serves 4-6.

Written and photographed by Diane.

Download Pasta Roses recipe (pdf)

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