Sono molto bene, grazie ma fame adesso. ah scusami, parliate L'Inglese?
Ok...OK... sorry about that, just the mention of pasta and off I go.
The two dishes I found to represent San Marino were a lasagne verde (beef with spinach pasta) or Nidi di Rondine as rolled pasta with ham in a béchamel.
Well everyone loves a mashup up, don't they? So today we have spinach rolled pasta with a chicken and ricotta filling.
I'd like to give a shout out to the wonderful Joanne from What's on The List? Who is a great supporter of the Chow Down to Eurovision. I think she is almost a converted Eurovision fan now!
Interestingly a bit of Googling alerted me that Joanne also has a delicious recipe for swallows nest with prosciutto and basil, so why not invite friends over and make both versions.
San Marino also has a tradition of doing different versions of the same thing as this year will be the third connective year they will be represented by Valentina Monetta.
San Marino has, as yet failed to qualify for the final, but the songs are getting better and better with each attempt.
Hold onto your hats Saucers, this recipe seems long but it's more the number of steps than the time it takes.
There is time for a vino while the pasta chills
Chicken and Spinach Swallows Nest (Nidi di Rondine con pollo e spinaci)
- 1 large bunch spinach
- 500g 00 flour
- 3 eggs
- 700g minced chicken
- 3 small red onions
- 600g ricotta
- 40g butter
- 60g plain flour
- 750ml milk (50:50 chicken stock if you prefer)
- 100ml cream
- 1/2 nutmeg grated (I like a lot)
- 100g parmesan or pecorino grated
- Boil the spinach for about 3-4 minutes in a pot of salted water
- Squeeze the spinach to remove most of the water (don't burn your hands)
- Put into a jug and blend till very smooth
- Pass through a fine sieve (there should be about 150g of spinach puree)
- Add flour, eggs and spinach puree to bowl of a food processor with dough attachment
- Process until pasta has come together as a ball
- Check for smooth feel, knead further if required or cover in plastic wrap to rest in fridge for 30minutes
- Finely chop the onions
- Add a splash of oil to a fry pan and fry off onions and chicken together till cooked
- Transfer to a bowl and place in the fridge to cool
- Make the sauce
- In a medium saucepan melt the butter on high heat
- Add the flour and combine to make a paste
- Cook the flour for about 1 minute
- Slowly add some milk while whisking to avoid lumps
- Reduce the heat and continue to stir
- As the sauce thickens add more milk and continue to stir
- Repeat till all milk is used and sauce is at a consistency you are happy, not too thick as it will thicken more as it bakes
- Season with salt and pepper and grate in 1/2 nutmeg
- Pour sauce into baking dish (mine is 32cm x 22cm), leaving about 1/2 cup to add to the chicken and onions
- Roll the pasta out to about 40cm wide and 120cm long
- You want the pasta to be thin, but not so thin that it will have holes
- Mix ricotta and 1/2 cup of sauce with chicken and onions
- Spread thinly over the sheet of pasta as evenly as possible (the old pallet knife came in handy)
- Roll the pasta up lengthways firmly, it will end up looking a bit like a door snake (draught excluder)
- To make it manageable cut into 4 equal lengths
- Put the tubes into freezer for 20 minutes to firm up
- Slice the tubes into 4cm slices
- Put the slices into the baking dish (it should work out to be 4 rows)
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of water, just to add some extra moisture to help cook the pasta
- Lightly sprinkle the parmesan over the top
- Bake in 170°C oven for 40-50 minutes till golden and pasta is cooked
- Serve with a salad or just eat it as is....remember the spinach so it practically is a salad