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17 April 2012

Agretti, Pine Nut & Ricotta Frittata Rolls and Villa Doria Pamphili of Rome


The weekend has passed with erratic weather.   We had everything again.   Rain, sun, wind, cold and heat.   I am obsessed with the weather lately (I think I have always been anyway.) because spring had started splendidly and we are now regressing back to winter.   I slept last night with two blankets and kept on adding more during the night that I lost count after four.  It was like sleeping with a mattress on top of me.  Believe me, it was not easy heaving the mattress everytime I turn.


Weather aside, here is a a very simple dish to take advantage of the season's produce before they completely disappear again.   I think I have come up with diverse dishes this time to enjoy, other than my usual dependable Agretti Salad with Anchovy & Lemon Dressing.  I like experimenting with new combinations of flavors and dishes but boring old me would always crawl back to the basic and classic. 


I like using pine nuts in cooking but I always forget them in the cupboard because they come in very small packages that they tend to get swamped by other stuff in my cupboard.   Now I am closing them with gigantic food clips with eye-catching colors.  That should get my attention next time.


I have a beautiful memory attached to pine nuts.  It was years ago, on a lovely warm day in October when the weather hasn't given in yet to autumn.  I was very pregnant at 7 months with Sofia and I was starting to stretch my legs after being ordered to bed the whole duration of my pregnancy.  We were on a picnic in the park of Villa Doria Pamphili, a 17th century villa in Rome with immense grounds. 


We chanced upon a father-daughter learn-about-nature-impromptu-class in the middle of the park, underneath the skyscraping pine trees.  The father was teaching his very young daughter how pine nuts are extracted from the pine cones.   It was a precious moment between father and daughter and it was heartwarming to see such a simple gesture turn into something momentous. 

I spent my childhood playing outdoors, using improvised toys from leaves, flowers, stones, twigs or whatever I could find in nature.  I preferred them more than toys from the shops.  It was fulfilling to come in close contact with the flora and fauna instead of just reading about them.   I saw the connection between reality and theories of what we studied in school.  There were no computers before (Oh God, I'm old!) so everything I learned about nature came from first-hand experience.   This is something I wish my kids can appreciate but it's hard to penetrate this side of the new generation because of their heavy dependence on modern technology and disposable toys.  I can count with the fingers the few times I spent with Riccardo taking advantage of the big green area around our house.  I remember spending an afternoon hunting down ladybugs during his fascination of them and moving them to our plants to protect them from pests.  He learned their importance as natural pest-controllers. 


Agretti is not easy to find outside Italy so you can replace it with any vegetable that goes well with ricotta.  Spinach is the best candidate.   Here is a similar recipe, Spinach Rolls with Ricotta & Pistachios, that I came up with last year putting together spinach-ricotta combination using leftover lasagna noodles. 

I hope you enjoy this middle of the week recipe. 


 
Agretti, Pine Nut & Ricotta Frittata Rolls

Ingredients:
Serves 2
  • 3 - 4 eggs
  • 150 g. ricotta
  • handful of agretti, cleaned
  • handful of pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt 
  • nutmeg
Directions:
  1. Whisk eggs with salt & 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano. 
  2. Prepare a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.  When it's hot, pour eggs, dividing into two portions.  When the eggs are cooked, transfer to a plate.
  3. Put agretti in a blender or electric chopper to chop finely.
  4. Transfer to a bowl with the ricotta, nutmeg & salt. Mix well.
  5. Put the ricotta mixture on the frittata and spread evenly with a knife.  Sprinkle one tablespoon parmigiano reggiano on top. 
  6. Roll the frittata.  Slice and put them in the skewers.  You can also omit this part if you want it to remain simple.  
  7. Repeat process with the other frittata.
  8. Serve warm.