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Pasta Roll With Spinach and Tomato Sauce

My Italian blogger friends, Marie over at Proud Italian Cook and Maryann at Finding La Dolce Vita, are hosting their second annual Festa Italiana, a virtual potluck of Italian dishes. I wanted to make something really special for this, so I did a Pasta Roll, stuffed with spinach and dressed with tomato sauce.

This roll can be an entree or a side dish. It can also be a great vegetarian dish - just omit the prosciutto. Don't be afraid to make this! It's really not hard and you will have fun doing it. It is basically two things - the pasta and the filling, and you make both and allow the pasta to rest and the filling to cool. Then assemble and boil for one hour. If you don't want to make a fresh tomato sauce, just use your favorite jarred sauce. Having a fish poacher is the ideal thing, but if you don't have one (and I don't) just use a large roaster.

Pasta Roll With Spinach and Tomato Sauce


for a printer friendly recipe, click here

You will need a fish poacher or large roasting pan, a large piece of cheesecloth, and kitchen string.


 for the Pasta Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 eggs, room temperature

for the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound ricotta cheese
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, cut into small dice
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Fresh Tomato Sauce (or whatever jarred sauce you like)


For Pasta Dough:  Mound flour on work surface and make a well in the center. Break eggs into well and blend with a fork. Gradually draw flour into center until almost all flour is incorporated. Bring dough together and if it is too sticky, add the remaining flour. Knead dough about 5 minutes. Add more flour if it is too sticky, just a teaspoon at a time. Wrap dough in floured plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature at least an hour.

For Filling:  Melt butter in a very large skillet over medium heat. Saute spinach and onions until just wilted. You will have to fill the skillet with spinach and add a handful at a time, until all spinach is added. Toss with two spatulas or spoons until all the spinach is wilted, just a few minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients except sauce. Transfer to bowl and let cool completely.

Unwrap dough, flour work surface and roll dough out into a rectangle. Your rectangle should not be larger than the pan, from corner to corner, that you plan to boil the pasta roll in. (Probably about 13x18, depending on how large the pan you use). Trim rectangle evenly if you need to. Spread filling over top, leaving a 1" border. Roll up tightly from one long side, using a pastry scraper as aid, to lift the dough up and help it along. Wrap pasta roll tightly in cheesecloth, twisting ends in opposite directions to smooth. Knot end and secure with string.

Bring large amount of salted water to rapid boil in your fish poacher or roasting pan. Add pasta roll and let return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. If roll is not completely submerged, roll with tongs every ten minutes. Remove pasta roll from water and let rest 10 minutes. Unwrap and cut into 1" slices. Arrange on platter. Top with fresh tomato sauce and serve.

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Reader Comments (23)

yummmmmm this looks amazing!

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

I wonder if Marcella's Bolognese sauce would be good with this. She has a recipe for lasagna with it and spinach noodles so it's a flavor combination that works. What do you think?

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

Elaine! Wow! This is amazing! I've never seen anything like this and I so want to try it out!
Thanks so much for joining the festa and for posting this recipe!
Maryann xox

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaryann

How amazing! I love your photos, I always feel like I'm right in the kitchen with you, making all this deliciousness.

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterIrene

Wow, you really outdid yourself. I tried making a pasta roll about 10 years but it didn't come out as nice as yours. I appreciate the step-by-step photos. I'll make a beeline for your dish at the festa.

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCiao Chow Linda

I am so impressed with this whole dish. I don't know why I don't make pasta more often. You make it look so easy. I love the jelly roll idea. Great photos, and instructions, thanks!

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commentera woman who is

I just visited the Italian Fiesta and saw your gorgeous pasta roll. Your photos look just like a cook-along - terrific.

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMy Carolina Kitchen

What a wonderful tutorial! This looks so delicious. I've never made one, but your step by step makes me want to try. Wonderful dish!

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterARLENE

This looks so very impressive. I can only imagine how delicious it mustbe. Something to strive for .. for myself to attempt! Its beautiful!

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna-FFW

Elaine, You really out did yourself! I'm in awe, I've never seen this either!! I can't wait to try this at the festa, I always love your step by step photo's, I think you should move onto video's now. This is great, I will be trying this at home too!! My hubby just walked by and I showed him, did you see his jaw drop? Thank you so much for joining are festa Elaine.
xox, Marie

March 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterProud Italian Cook

Looks delicious. The girls are coming, I may try this with them. They love to be in the kitchen with me and we will all enjoy this. Especially our little vegetarian!

March 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie M.

Gaby: Thanks!

Victoria: That's funny you ask this - what you're describing is the classic lasagna from Emilia Romagna in Italy. (In fact, look for a future post I plan to do on this dish) There's no reason why you couldn't make spinach pasta for this and stuff it with a bolognese. If you do it, post it! I would love to see it!

Maryann: Thanks and thank you for hosting the Festa!

Irene: Thanks!

Chow Chow Linda: Give it a try again! Good luck!

A woman who is: Fresh pasta is so darn easy!

My Carolina Kitchen, Arlene and Donna: Thanks!

Proud Italian Cook: Thanks for your work with the Festa! It's great!

Debbie: I'm sure the girls would love to try this. It's really fun to make.

March 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Italian Dish

Looks delicious.

March 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Food Hunter

Great contribution and beautiful work. I am absolutely yearning for a bite since I am a fanatic spinach lover - and my favorite way to eat it is stuffed into a pasta. Just fantastic.

March 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

Brilliant. Your directions are so clear. I've never had this, but I will now... That last photo with the red and green is just stunning.

March 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercasalba

I was intimidated until I followed your tutorial. Thanks for sharing this and making it "do-able"

March 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercasch

Amazing, splendid, gorgeous, impressive and I'm hungry. Thanks for the tutorial - you make it look manageable and ready to tackle.

March 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

incredible. i've never seen this. beautiful. one day i will try this...

March 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercook eat FRET

WOW that is incredible - DAMN impressive!! Love the step by step as well!! Great pictures

This looks amazing, definitely going to try it :)

March 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdolcidoll

That's my kind of meal when I am alone. That and a glass of wine and a chick movie! Looks perfect!

July 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDazy


September 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdebsuzie

I have followed your blog since finding this recipe more than 2 years then boyfriend (now husband!) had me try what his family calls 'gatto nel sacchetto' (cat in the bag- because of the way it looks while boiling) his aunt made for us, and I later decided to try to make it for him- you know 'way to his heart is his stomach' turned out great, following your recipe and since then I have tried many other recipes. thank you for posting, you are a great contributor to the online cooking community!

July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDianna

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