Spinach & ricotta rotolo

Theo Randall shares his recipe for a classic Italian dish that transforms homemade pasta into something special – our step-by-step instructions make it easy to follow

  • Prep:1 hrs 30 mins
    Cook:45 mins
    plus 40 mins for the Simple tomato sauce
  • Serves 6
  • A challenge

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 493
  • fat 30g
  • saturates 14g
  • carbs 31g
  • sugars 6g
  • fibre 7g
  • protein 22g
  • salt 1.2g


  • 1kg spinach
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tsp chopped marjoram or oregano
  • 500g ricotta
  • 50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated, plus a little extra to serve
  • ½ quantity Theo's pasta dough (see tip below)
  • good-quality olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • a pasta machine


Theo's pasta dough

Put 300g Italian ‘00’ flour, 100g fine semolina, 2 large organic eggs and 6 large organic egg yolks in a food processor and pulse until they form a yellow ball of dough. At this point, the dough should have a smooth, firm but slightly sticky texture, almost like plasticine. If it seems wet, add an extra 1-2 tsp of flour. Divide the dough into 2 equal balls and immediately wrap them in cling film to prevent them drying out. Ready to use straight away.

Buy the best

The ideal flour for pasta is ‘00’ flour, also known as Italian tipo 00 or doppio zero flour. It’s very finely milled and will give your pasta good texture and bite.

Buy the best

Use good-quality eggs too. Many supermarkets sell ‘golden yolk’ varieties, which will give your pasta a richer flavour and colour.

Salt and oil

Unlike some pasta recipes, mine has no salt or oil in it, as I find this can turn the dough grey when it’s chilled.


I use semolina for extra texture, and dust the work surfaces with semolina during proving and rolling stages, as too much flour can make the dough dry out.


  1. Begin by making the Simple tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic clove and cook until just softened. Add the chopped tomatoes and season. Cook slowly for 25 mins, stirring now and then, until very thick. Do this a day or two ahead of assembling the rotolo, or freeze it for up to 2 months.

  2. Wilt the spinach in a pan over a medium heat, then leave to cool. Squeeze well to remove the excess water, then roughly chop the spinach. Season and leave to cool completely.

  3. Gently fry the garlic in the butter until softened, then remove from the heat and add the marjoram. Tip into a bowl and add the spinach, ricotta and Parmesan.

  4. Roll out the pasta (see step-by-step images). Cut the sheets into 3 or 4 pieces, each roughly 40cm long, and place them on a white tea towel. Using a little water and a pastry brush, stick the sheets together, allowing a 1cm overlap.

  5. Using a spatula, spread the filling over the pasta as evenly as possible, leaving a 1cm border around the edge.

  6. Fold over the edge of the pasta nearest to you and, using the tea towel and the weight of the pasta, roll it away from you like you would a Swiss roll.

  7. Brush the open edge of the pasta with a little water and press together to seal.

  8. Wrap the pasta roll tightly in the tea towel and tie a piece of string round it every 10cm or so (or use a butcher’s knot – see step-by-step images). Tie the ends with string to secure them, leaving a long piece of string at each end to act as a handle.

  9. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (a fish kettle is ideal, but a deep roasting tin filled with water works well too) and cook the rotolo for 20 mins. Remove from the water and leave to cool. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.

  10. Gently unwrap the rotolo and cut it into 3cm slices. Arrange the slices in a baking dish. Spoon over the Simple tomato sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 15 mins until the pasta is hot and crisping around the edges.

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