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Ham and Asparagus Pasta Nests (Rotolo)

This simple recipe for Italian rotolo, or pasta nests, combines fresh asparagus and smoky ham with rich mozzarella and parmesan to create a perfect family or dinner party dish.


250g asparagus, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
40g butter
20g plain flour
400ml chicken or vegetable stock, hot
250g mozzarella balls, broken into pieces
250g cooked ham (ideally an Italian rosemary variety), torn into pieces
6 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
Black pepper
For the pasta:
200g Italian ‘00’ flour
2 eggs
For the Béchamel sauce:
40g butter
40g plain flour
500ml hot whole milk
Freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Essential kit

You will need a food processor to make the pasta.

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Make the pasta Place the flour in a food-processor and pulse. Add the eggs and keep pulsing for 2–3 minutes, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead briskly for 1 minute; it should be quite stiff and hard to knead. Wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Make the Béchamel sauce Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the flour and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes then add the hot milk, stirring continuously. Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Leave to cool.

Make the asparagus sauce Sauté the asparagus in the olive oil and garlic over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes. Melt the butter in another pan over a medium heat. Add the flour and mix well before adding the hot stock, stirring continuously. Stir in the asparagus.

Assemble the pasta nests Take the pasta from the fridge and roll it out into a large round (about 40cm in
diameter and as thin as you can make it). Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for 1–2 minutes and then drain on a tea towel.

Spread half of the cooled Béchamel onto the pasta, then top with the mozzarella, ham and 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan.Roll into a log and wrap in a tea towel. Leave in the fridge to firm up for 30 minutes, or as long as possible.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C.

Cook the pasta nests Spoon half the asparagus sauce into a baking dish. Remove the pasta roll from
the fridge and slice into 9 even pieces. Lay the slices on the asparagus sauce and spoon the remaining sauce and Béchamel over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and black pepper and bake for 20–30 minutes, or until browned on top.

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