is a dish I associate closely with Bologna, which is where I have seen it, eaten it, and learnt to make it.
Until I moved to Bologna I was unaware of it and I have never personally come across it in Romagna and the classic traditional dish is indeed often called Rosette di Pasta all'Emiliana. Though fairly common here in Bologna, which is the capital of the whole Emilia-Romagna region,it seems to be more closely associated with our neighbouring town of Modena. I am told that despite my experience it is also present in Romagna, where it goes under the different though equally pretty name of Nidi di Rondine - Swallow's Nests. This name is very appropriate for the traditional wider, fatter and shorter pasta "wheels" as you can see here.
I like this dish because it is a quick way of making a filled pasta. It does not require the time consuming individual folding of little pasta squares around a filling. And it looks so appealing besides and it is relatively light. The classic rosette are filled with a smear of besciamella sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano and topped with sliced cooked ham, a filling that is a lot less rich than that of Lasagne and meat filled Cannelloni. In Bologna a vegetable is often added to the Rosette filling, making this a complete meal all by itself. Of course Rosette are made with fresh egg pasta here, but you could use dried store bought Lasagne pieces instead.
As always,l hope you try and enjoy it. And If you make it in a personal way adding your own variation do comment below and tell us all about it. Buon Appetito!
NB - The traditional recipe calls for 300g each of ham and cheese but I have always used about half that amount
For four people you will need:
Freshly made pasta in wide rectangles as for lasagne
About 250ml (1 cup) bechamel sauce
made with 25g (scant 1 ounce) flour, 25g butter, 250 ml milk, salt, optional nutmeg , 40g ( scant 1 and a half ounces) Parmigiano-Reggiano
300g (10 and a half ounces) cooked ham in slices or diced
300g Fontina (or substitute Emmenthal) cheese in thinnest possible slices
2 tbsp. butter (or substitute cold milk)
optional: 40g Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on top
Trim ends off washed zucchini then chop or slice roughly.
Bring a small pan of cold water to the boil, salt when the water is boiling and then tip in the zucchini and cook till tender
Strain out and immediately refresh in very cold water. Drain, place in a deep beaker and whizz till smooth using an immersion blender. Set aside.
Place the milk to heat in a small sauce pan while in another pan you cook the butter and flour, whisking them together to make the base.
When the milk comes to the boil take both pans off the heat and pour all the milk at once onto the base, whisking hard with a large whisk to blend the two into a smooth and lump free white sauce. Should lump forms don't worry, just strain the white sauce through a sieve.
Season with salt or if you prefer with plenty of freshly grated nutmeg and about 20g of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
To pre-cook the Pasta:
Prepare a wide shallow pan into which you place cold milk to come about an inch high.
Cook just 2 or 3 pasta pieces at a time in salted boiling water to which you have added a little oil, for 2/3 minutes if the pasta is freshly made. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the pan with the milk to stop the cooking. Then take out, let the milk drip off and place to dry on clean tea towels on your work surface. Turn them over to dry both sides
Prepare a buttered baking dish and pre-heat the oven to 200° C ( 90 ° F).
Spread a thin layer of béchamel on the pasta pieces, then sprinkle with grated P-R. cheese and place ham and cheese slices on top
Roll up each in piece into a cylinder and cut into two or three even sized rolls between 3 and 6 cm high as you prefer.
Place them close together cut side up in the buttered baking dish continuing the process till it is full - if you have space left use crumpled balls of cooking foil to fill in the space and keep the rolls upright.
I like to use kitchen scissors to nick the rolls in a few places and pulls out pasta "petals" turning them down a little so they stay "open" during baking.
Melt 2 tbsp butter and drizzle this over the top of the roses, or to save calories, simply brush the tops with milk using a pastry brush or a couple of rolled up sheets of strong kitchen paper. You can also sprinkle with extra just-grated Reggiano if you like.
Bake at 200° C for about 30 minutes or till the top of the roses is crisp and golden then serve placing vertically or horizontally on individual plates as you prefer.
Variations: Leave the vegetables out altogether for the traditional recipe or use alternative vegetables, in a puree as above or simply placed on top of the ham. According to what is in season, cooked mushrooms, asparagus, leeks, fennel, artichokes, blanched Swiss Chard leaves all work well..