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Roulade with Mixed Greens, Ricotta and Fresh Tomato Sauce

Spinach-roulade
I'm back, baby! 

I don't get too personal in this blog...it's usually about food, recipes, ingredients and taste. But for the past three months I've been through a tough time, as some readers already know. The week before Thanksgiving I missed the second step going up my back stairs and fell, somehow breaking both bones in my lower leg. I know, it was only a 16" fall...but the doctor said it's not that uncommon. Anyway, after surgery to install some plates and screws and three days in the hospital I came home to three months of "don't put ANY weight on the leg" -- which means a wheelchair or a walker for every movement.

Cooking in a wheelchair is no fun...especially in a kitchen that's not designed for accessibility. And cooking while using a walker is pretty much impossible, since both hands have to be on the walker. Elise, my wonderful wife, stepped up and – even though she really doesn't cook – followed my instructions to shop for and cook our meals most of the time, or to order takeout – fortunately we live in "America's Foodiest Small Town" so there are lots of great takeout options. Most of the posts I've put out over the last three months have been based on recipes and photos that I had done before the accident. 

Last week the doctor gave me the go-ahead to put weight on the leg, and this week I'm back full-bore in the kitchen. This roulade is the kind of cooking I love to do – time-consuming and interesting, with multiple steps and lots of ingredients and prep. I cook because I love it, every step of the way, and finally being able to cook again is to me the symbol of my recovery. I know it's a chore for some, but for me it feels like freedom and pure pleasure to have a pile of ingredients and a couple of hours alone with them in the kitchen..and that's never been clearer that it is now.

This dish is really just a variation on an omelet: a filling wrapped in a sheet of egg. The filling in this case was made of a mixture of leafy greens – spinach, watercress, basil, parsley and scallion greens – mixed with onions and layered with ricotta. The egg wrapper is a sheet soufflé that's cooled and therefore de-puffed. With a simple fresh tomato sauce, a green salad, a crusty baguette and a bottle of crisp pinot grigio this dish makes a very pleasant weeknight supper or casual weekend lunch. 

As might be expected, this dish is relatively low in carbohydrates – and so, good for glucose control – but has a fairly high calorie and fat content (pretty much the usual deal with egg dishes). Therefore, if you are looking to control or lose weight you need to carefully monitor portions and be aware of how this fits in your plan for calorie and fat intake for the rest of the day. 

Roulade with Mixed Greens, Ricotta and Fresh Tomato Sauce

8 servings

Ingredients

For the souffle: 

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/3 cup Parmeggiano Regianno, finely grated

For the filling: 

  • 20 ounces mixed leafy greens (spinach, scallion greens, watercress, fresh basil, parsley or other leafy greens, in any combination)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • White parts of the scallions, if used, minced
  • 3 medium shallots, chopped
  • 6 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Nutmeg to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 4 fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut in 1" dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Make the souffle: 

Preheat the oven to 400º.

1. Line a 9 x 12 baking dish with buttered and floured parchment paper.

2. Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks with a fork. 

3. Make a roux by melting the butter in a small sauté pan and scattering in the flour. Cook on medium heat, stirring, for several minutes until the mixture starts to darken slightly. 

4. Stir in the milk and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir again. Mixture should be thick. 

5. Whisk 1/3 of the beaten yolks into the roux mixture, then add the rest of the yolks and whisk for a minute or so to combine thoroughly. 

6. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat until they make firm peaks. 

7. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites and one-half of the cheese into the roux/yolks mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the beaten egg whites. 

8. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish, spreading it into the corners with a spatula. Scatter on the rest of the cheese. 

9. Bake in the preheated 400º oven about 15 minutes, until the souffle has puffed up and is beginning to brown. 

Set aside to cool while you make the filling. 

Make the filling:

1. Wash the greens. Place the olive oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over high heat. Add the wet greens to the skillet and toss with tongs until wilted, about a minute or two. Remove to a colander. 

2. Press as much moisture from the greens as possible with the back of a large spoon and leave in the colander to dry. 

3. Place the butter in the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and scallions, if used, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not yet beginning to color. Remove from heat.

4. Chop the cooked greens and mix with the cooked onions and butter. 

5. Mix the ricotta with the milk and nutmeg and stir 'til smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

To assemble: 

Turn the cooled soufflé onto a board. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the soufflé, then the greens/onion mixture. Starting with the short side of the soufflé, roll into a roulade. 

If making ahead, wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate. 

Make sauce:

1. Place the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes or so, until the onions are soft. 

2. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, parsley, thyme and basil. Cook 10 to 12 minutes or so, unitl the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce is fairly thick. 

3. Remove the bay leaf, garlic and parsley stems. Correct the seasoning. If the sauce is too thick add a little water.

To finish and serve: 

Preheat the oven to 400º.

Bake the roulade, loosely covered with foil, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, keep the sauce warm. To serve, slice the roulade, place on a serving plate and spoon on the sauce. 

 

Nutritional Estimate: 8 Servings. Per serving: 256 Calories; 11 g Total Carbs; 2 g Dietary Fiber; 4 g Sugars; 18 g Fat; 119 mg Cholesterol; 181 mg Sodium; 11 g Protein. Weight Watchers: 6 points.

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Comments

This sounds great. Can you make it in advance by any chance? Would love to serve for a group of friends coming for a weekend lunch. Thanks.

Hi Leslie...Absolutely you can make it in advance. As a matter of fact the one pictured was made the day before and it was perfect when served. After youve rolled up the roulade just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to warm it in the oven and then remove the plastic wrap before heating. Its perfect for that weekend lunch. (By the way, check the Recipe Finder box on the left side of the page for the Do Ahead page – under MORE – for other recipes that are well-suited to easy entertaining.)

Best, Stephen

What a horrible ordeal! So glad it's over, you must be feeling great now that you are back to the kitchen...

and this recipe is a winner for sure!

Thanks for posting, and best wishes for a complete recovery!

I'm glad you're back in the kitchen! I love reading your creative recipes even if I don't always have time to try them. Please take care~

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