Tuesday, March 11, 2014

San Marino: Nidi di Rondine (Swallows' Nests)


Nidi di Rondine, literally 'swallows' nests', is a stuffed pasta dish from San Marino. Traditionally the nests are filled with beciamela sauce and topped with cooked ham and some fontina cheese. That's it. I took some culinary liberties, adding in leeks, greens, and ricotta cheese. The boys all declared this dish as 'red book-worthy.' Sweet!

Ingredients

  • 1 package lasagna noodles (one of my kitchen elves gave me a hard time for not making my own...next time!)
  • 1 C beciamela sauce* (directions below)
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 C pancetta, cubed
  • 1/2 C whole milk ricotta
  • 2 C mixed greens (I used baby kale, baby spinach, and baby chard)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 C marinara sauce
  • 1 C shredded parmesan cheese, divided in half

Procedure
*For the beciamela sauce:

  • 2 T flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 C milk
  • salt to taste
Melt butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. Whisk to create a roux. Pour in the milk. Keep whisking until sauce thickens. Season with salt to taste.

For the pasta:
Cook just a couple of lasagna pieces at a time in salted boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on kitchen towels.

For the filling:
Saute the leeks and pancetta in a small skillet until the leeks are softened and beginning to turn translucent. Fold that into the ricotta with the greens, and 1/2 C shredded parmesan. Season with some salt, pepper, and the parsley.

To fill and assemble:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with the marinara sauce

Lay a lasagna noodle on a cutting board or plate. Place 1 T of filling in the top left corner. Fold the lasagna noodle in half length-wise, covering the filling.

As tightly as you can, roll the noodle to the right, creating a cylinder that's open at the top.

Place the nest, fold-side, down on top of the marinara sauce.

Repeat until you run our of noodles or run out of space in your pan.

Spoon the beciamela sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The noodles will be soft and some of the parmesan shreds with be crisped. As I said, this was a hit! We will definitely make this again.

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