Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tuscan Spinach & Mushroom Roll

So, here it is ladies and gentlemen.  The recipe you've all been waiting for...the recipe I have been aluding to for days, maybe weeks, now.  The greatest recipe of all time.  May I present to you...

Tuscan Spinach & Mushroom Roll.


I originally found this recipe in a cookbook I picked up when we were in Florence, Italy a couple of years ago.  Its titled simply Tuscan Cookbook and is a collection of recipes from two Australian women, Maggie Beers and Stephanie Alexander.  These women spent a summer in Tuscany hosting week-long cooking schools.  Oh, I am green with envy when I read this cookbook.  There are pictures of these fine women and their students cooking, drinking wine, eating, perusing local markets, filling their tummies and souls with Tuscan food and culture.  I promise you this, someday one of those students will be me.  This is a dream of mine, and one I believe to be attainable. 

This is a special occasion meal, no doubt.  This meal takes time and forethought and love.  I adore this meal and I am certain it turns out so well because of the love I pour into it while I am cooking.  I firmly believe that love is a huge, if not the biggest, ingredient in cooking or baking.  I have never made a terrific meal when I am in a bad mood.  I have made this four times and I have had the opportunity to share the process with two of the moms in my life on separate occassions.  This was such a joy for me.

Easter with my Mama

Christmas with my Mom-in-Law

I don't usually post step by step photos with the instruction in my recipes, but I am going to post a few this time because some of the steps are complex.  But, please believe me, this meal is worth every second you put into it.  This meal is a journey and one that you will fall in love with at the end. 

I always serve this with this Focaccia Bread  recipe, because it pairs well together.  You should too.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all!

Tuscan Spinach and Mushroom Roll

Serves 8

6 whole eggs
4 cups (560 grams) all purpose flour
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups (12 oz) cooking sherry
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Oregano, chopped
30 oz blanched (or thawed, frozen) spinach, water wrung out (see tip here)
zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
12 oz fresh shiitakes, or other field mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cups homemade ricotta (recipe here), or 1-15.5 oz container store bought
1/3 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup unsalted butter
16 sage leaves

Special Equipment
Pasta roller
2 CLEAN, large sized tea towels
Kitchen string

To make the pasta: Make in two separate batches.  Combine 3 eggs, 2 cups flour and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a food processor and pulse until the dough comes together.  If the dough still seems dry and will not stick together when pinched, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together.  Knead briefly and shape into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Pasta can be made up to 8 hours ahead.

To make the mushroom filling: Warm 1/4 cup of sherry in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the dried porcini mushrooms to the pan. Add the remaining sherry a few tablespoons at a time until the mushrooms have been reconstituted to an edible softness.  This will take about 20-25 minutes.  Drain the mushrooms, being sure to reserve the sherry remaining in the pan.  Gently rinse the porcinis to remove any grit.

Heat olive oil in the same pan, then add garlic and saute on medium heat for a couple minutes.  Add the shiitakes and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium and add the reconstituted porcinis.  Cook for 20 minutes, adding the reserved sherry a little at a time until it all has been incorporated.  If there is sherry left in the pan, turn the heat up and cook until all liquid is evaporated.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.  Once cool, roughly chop.  Mushroom filling can be made one day ahead of time.

To make the spinach filling: Heat 3 tbsp butter over medium heat and cook the onion until softened.  Add the oregano, spinach and lemon zest.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.  Once cooled, add the ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg and stir to combine.  Spinach filling can be made one day ahead of time.

Assemble the pasta roll: Lay one tea towel out on a large clean work surface.  Remove pasta dough from fridge and divide into four pieces, keeping dough covered with plastic when not being used.  Run one piece of dough through the pasta machine on the second thinnest setting (this is a 6 on my Kitchenaid pasta roller) and lay on the tea towel.  With your finger or a pastry brush, wet about 1/2" along the long edge of the dough facing you.  Repeat with another piece of dough and lay this piece next to the first, overlapping the long edges where the water was brushed.  Gently seal the two pieces of pasta together. Cut the short edges to square them off (like the right side below).

Spoon half of the mushroom mixture onto the middle of the pasta sheet closest to you.  Spread half of the spinach mixture over the top pasta sheet.

Fold a small edge from the short sides of the pasta over. Starting from the mushroom edge, carefully and tightly roll the pasta and then seal the edge with water.

Wrap the tea towel tightly around the pasta then take kitchen string and tie it around the tea towel as shown below:

Repeat this process with the remaining dough and fillings.

Bring a very large stockpot of water to a boil.  Add one roll to the pot and boil for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, melt the 1/2 cup of unsalted butter over medium heat until it is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 8-10 minutes.  Keep on eye an the butter though because it will turn from golden brown to black in an instant.  Pour the brown butter into a spouted measuring cup.  Add the sage leaves to the hot pan and cook until crisped, about 1 minute.  Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.

After 20 minutes, remove the roll from the boiling water using two sets of kitchen tongs and place on a large cutting board.  Be very careful not to burn yourself because the roll is heavy and awkward and really hot!  Add the second roll to the boiling water for 20 minutes.

Allow the roll to cool for about 5 minutes and then carefully cut the string and unroll the towel.  Transfer the pasta roll to a cutting board and cut into 2 inch slices.  Place 3 or 4 slices on a plate and drizzle with brown butter and garnish with sage.  And then finally...finally...because you totally earned can...

Eat it!!!


  1. Oh Maggie! This was certainly a labor of love..but well worth it! What a gorgeous dish! You know how you say you never cook in a bad mood. Well conversely, sometimes cooking is therapeutic for me when I've had a bad day! This is gorgeous! And really special! Beautiful work! : )

  2. This makes me miss Italy even more!!! You should make these and sell them. To me. You can ship it on dry ice. ;)

  3. Aww...Maggie!! This is a wonderful dish. It sounds delicious and i am sure it tastes too. Thanks for posting step by step pictures. Its indeed helpful. Hope you enjoyed your Christmas and wishing you a very Happy New Year!

  4. How I wish I was there to sample some of these awesome Italian slices! You and your mom do make a good team and it looks like a fun project for two. Like you I would love to travel to another country and have some cooking lessons! However, by the looks of this dish, you would definitely be in a more advanced class than me. Happy New Year!

  5. Oh wow, these look so tasty! I love spinach rolls, and mushrooms sound like a great addition!

  6. This looks beautiful, and delicious too! Wow.
    I also really enjoy cooking and baking. I love it when I'm in a good mood, and I love it when I'm in a bad mood. In fact, it always brings me out of a bad mood. ... It's the creativity and the fact that you can be so absorbed that you enter into a whole new world where all your troubles are left behind. Thank you for this blog, Maggie. Happy New Year!

  7. Dear Maggie! This dish looks fantastic! Love the team work pics :)

  8. Oh wow! this looks super tasty. love the pics :)

  9. Outstanding! Marcella Hazan would be proud!

  10. That looks just delicious--totally worth the effort!

  11. I LOVE this! Once I am don't with my New Years, Healthy Eating thing, I'm going to make this. It just looks like the perfect thing to share with a big group of people who love you.

  12. It looks delicious! The recipe sounds amazing and I bet the cookbook is a dream to own! Congratulations on an amazing post...buzzed!

  13. Wow, this looks amazing! I bet I could eat the whole roll...haha, probably not, but I'd definitely give it a shot! Great recipe, I love anything with spinach in it :)

  14. WHoa! What a "team" effort! Would love to do this w/ my son. Happy New Year!

  15. Hi Maggie, lovely pic of team work in the kitchen! Bookmarking this roll to try very early in 2012

  16. That definitely looks worth the trouble! When I saw you wrapping it in the kitchen towel I was having flashbacks to making pumpkin rolls in October! Looks delicious!!!

  17. Maggie...just dropping by one more time to wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year and to tell you that I look forward to sharing more with you in the year to come! : )

  18. This looks delis! And I love the sage leaves on top! :D

  19. oh my goodness, that requires so much work and I bet tastes so good! Love it!!
    thanks for sharing and happy new year!

  20. What a fantastic dish, totally delicious and beautiful!!!

  21. Oh my gosh this looks fantastic. I would love to taste this. Well worth the effort I am sure. Not quite sure how I arrived here but am so happy that I did. It is nice to meet you and Happy New Year!

  22. I love that this is completely made from scratch, including the pasta. Lots of love and care goes into this dish, which means it must be incredible. I've no doubt the work put into it is well worth in. Yum :D

  23. Yum!! This does look absolutely amazing! How great that you got to share this with both sides of your family!

  24. Wow, this looks really fantastic! I love this recipe and your photos!

  25. Ooo, this looks so tasty! I have never made my own pasta before but I'd like to give it a go.


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