A twist on a traditional pasta dish, Michela Chiappa uses pancakes for her prosciutto and summer veggie rolls on Simply Italian
Michela Chiappa: "Nidi in Italian are translated as 'nests' and you can see why once you finish this dish. Each portion contains a pair of 'nests', which not only look beautiful but tasty really yummy too. The traditional nidi in our house, are made with sheets of pasta, béchamel sauce, ham and roasted mushrooms, but we've created a summer twist on this classic. The dish can be pre-prepared in various stages and left aside until you are ready to cook. A great one for any dinner party as it looks impressive but is easy to pre-prepare and serve. The best way to describe this to any Brit is as a cross between an artic roll and a chocolate log, but savoury."
Serves 4 as a main
For the pancake batter
For the filling
For the tomato sauce (optional)
For the pancakes
Beat together the flour, milk and egg until you have a smooth, thin-ish batter. Add a drop more milk if necessary.
Meanwhile place a good quality non-stick saucepan on a high heat ready to make the pancakes. A good pan is the secret to making great pancakes. Pour a ladleful of batter into the saucepan and quickly spread the mix to the edges of the pan by tilting the pan from side to side.
Leave the pan on the heat for a couple of minutes until the pancake is set, then flip over and cook on the other side until cooked through. Continue with the rest of the mix - you need 6 pancakes in total. If you are struggling to flip your pancakes without them sticking, add a little butter to your pan before cooking.
Lay three pancakes in a line on a clean tea towel overlapping them slightly and brushing the edges with butter to help them stick together, then make a second layer below the first in the same way so that you have a rough rectangle shape - don't leave any gaps.
Now prepare the roll
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Place the ricotta, basil, chilli and lemon zest in a bowl and mix. Taste and season with some salt and pepper. Mix again and spread a thin layer over the pancakes leaving an even 2.5cm border. Make sure the top border has a good, clean gap of at least 2.5cm.
Next lay the prosciutto over the top followed by shreds of mozzarella. Try to keep the layers quite flat and not piled too high.
Next griddle your peppers, aubergines and courgettes in a hot griddle pan until charred, without adding any oil. Season with salt and pepper, chop into small pieces and drizzle with a little oil. Alternatively you can roast them at 180°C/gas mark 4 for about 30-40 minutes in a little olive oil, then chop.
Scatter your chopped vegetables onto the pancakes and finally sprinkle on two thirds of the parmesan cheese.
With the short side facing you, use the tea towel gently but firmly to roll the pancake, trying to keep it as tight as you can. If you can, roll it onto a chopping board. Using a large, sharp knife, trim off the ends and cut into 8 disks of around 1 inch thick. Place each disk flat in an ovenproof dish, scatter over the remaining parmesan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
To make the tomato sauce
While the nidi are baking, place a saucepan on a medium heat and add a splash of olive oil, the red onion and garlic. Leave to cook for a few minutes until softened but not browned. Add the chopped tomatoes, stock cube, tomato purée, a pinch of cayenne pepper and the capers. Season to taste then stir and continue to cook until piping hot.
Serve the nidi with a good spoon of tomato sauce and a few baby basil leaves.
You don't need to have a tomato sauce with this dish but we like how the tomatoes cut through the creaminess of the nidi. A drizzle of pesto is also a nice accompaniment.
This dish is classically made with béchamel sauce, ham and roasted mushrooms. But you can experiment with lots of different ingredients - blended sundried tomatoes, spinach etc. You can also use a variety of other roasted vegetables so be creative, although the red/yellow peppers add some great colour to the dish.
The secret is to keep the filling flat and not piled too high, otherwise you will struggle to make the roll.
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