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Pasta roll filled with fried cauliflower & ricotta (rotolo di cavolfiore e ricotta)

Recipe from Nino Zoccali's cookbook, Pasta Artigiana


2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) cauliflower, cut into very small florets and blanched
1 garlic clove, finely diced
250 g (9 oz) fresh egg pasta dough, divided into two balls and set aside to rest (see below)
400 g (14 oz/1⅔ cup) fresh ricotta cheese
30 g (1 oz) flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
100 g (3½ oz/1 cup) coarsely grated gruyere cheese
50 g (1¾ oz) salted butter, chopped
40 g (1½ oz/⅓ cup) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra, to serve
Sliced fresh truffle, to taste (optional)


Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and sauté the cauliflower and garlic until lightly golden. Set aside to cool.

To make the pasta roll, roll the balls of pasta dough to 1 mm (1/32 inch) thick (see note below). This should yield two sheets of approximately 75 x 14 cm (29 x 5½ inches). Cut into 3 crossways. Lay 3 of these sheets onto muslin (cheesecloth), overlapping by 1 cm (½ inch) to form a sheet of pasta about 40 x 25 cm (16 x 10 inches). Brush the joins lightly with water to seal. Repeat with the other 3 sheets on top. Crumble the ricotta evenly on the sheets, followed by the parsley leaves, gruyère cheese and the cauliflower mix, leaving a 5cm (2 inch) gap at the end and a 3 cm (1¼ inch) gap at the sides.

Roll the pasta roll from the longer side, being sure to roll tightly. Seal the end with a little water and fold in the sides. Wrap tightly in the muslin and tie the ends with a piece of string. Place the pasta roll in a fish boiler of boiling water (if this is unavailable, simply use a large stockpot with water and bring to the boil). Cook for approximately 30 minutes. You may need to weigh it down with a rack and turn it halfway through cooking. Remove the pasta roll from the water and allow to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Unwrap the pasta roll and slice into 2-3cm (¾ x 1¼ inch) slices and place on a large, greased baking tray. Top with the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until light golden. Serve immediately with the butter from the dish spooned over, extra Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and truffle, if desired.

Note: The pasta for this dish needs to be thin, otherwise the middle of the pasta roll will not be cooked. However, if the pasta is too thin, the pasta roll will tear and fall apart when slicing.

Fresh egg pasta dough - Makes approximately 600 g (1 lb, 5 oz)

330 g (11½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra, for kneading
70 g (2½ oz) fine semolina
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 x 60 g (2¼ oz) free range or organic eggs


Combine the flour, semolina and sea salt and place on a work surface or large wooden board. The flour should form a peaked mound. With your hand, make a hole in the top of the mound so that it resembles a volcano. This hole needs to be big enough to be able to 'house' the eggs. Break the eggs into the hole. With your hand or with a fork, gently beat the eggs, then slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture. I do this by moving my hand in a circular motion, slowly incorporating the flour from the inside wall of the mound. Don't worry if the dough looks like a mess. This is normal.

Once fully combined, knead a little more flour into the dough if it feels a little wet and sticky. Set the dough aside and clean the work space. Dust some fresh flour onto the work surface and continue kneading the dough for another 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Next, roll the pasta to the desired thickness and cut into the desired shape.

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