Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

Potato and garlic rotolo with anchovy sauce

O Tama Carey is the owner of Lankan Filling Station. Her first cookbook is Lanka Food. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Photographed remotely by Earl Carter

There are endless shapes and names that fall under the category of pasta, and learning about them, making dough, rolling and shaping is a pastime that can be endless and obsessive. The feel of the dough when rolled to the point of delicate silkiness is one of life’s pleasures, beaten only by the delight of eating it. I crave pasta on a fairly regular basis, often for breakfast, but in a very specific way.

Most people now know that the sauce you chose to make should be dictated by the type and shape of the pasta you are using. Whether it’s a dried version, a fresh one or a filled one, there is always a recipe to match.

The other day I had some cauliflower in the fridge and decided I needed to make a dry, oily pasta sauce using it with some capers, chilli and casarecce, and a little lemon zest and parsley. To my horror, I found I only had penne in the cupboard, which simply would not work. I was forced to rethink lunch entirely.

Making a fresh, filled pasta takes more effort and can often be a little fiddlier to deal with. Rotolo, however, is one of the more rugged and easy versions to wrangle. I came across this pasta style at a restaurant in Sydney named Vini, a tiny place with a minuscule kitchen (one I found myself cooking in at various times), in what was then an obscure part of Surry Hills. Rotolo was a regular on the menu. Pasta sheets were strewn with any variety of appropriate things – often a braised meat ragu – rolled and wrapped tightly before being poached whole and then left to cool and set. The long logs would then be cut into smaller pieces, stood on their end and heated in a steamer to be served.

This version is a little different. The sheets of pasta are pre-blanched and then filled, rolled and left to set overnight before being cut and then warmed in the oven to serve. This results in a light and delicate number, with the pasta baked and crisp on the outside yet soft in the middle.

The mix of pasta and potatoes is a thing of glory, and we are matching it here with classic flavours. Sage for herbal notes, chewy, caramelised and mellow garlic, ricotta to bind and bring creaminess, with some sharper parmesan to liven things up. The sauce is a rich anchovy concoction with the addition of some non-traditional yoghurt to provide a little tang.

I haven’t supplied you with a pasta recipe, as the art of making and rolling is far too involved for this little column. If you are making your own for this, then no doubt you would already have a technique or favourite recipe. If not, there are many places to buy fresh sheets, so trot happily down that path, saving time and feeling no remorse.


Serves 6-8

Time: 2 hours preparation + overnight resting + 30 minutes cooking (not counting pasta making and rolling)

  • 2 heads garlic, cloves peeled
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 1kg desiree potatoes
  • 1 tbsp cooking salt
  • 500g ricotta
  • 160g parmesan, grated
  • 1 bunch sage, leaves finely shredded
  • 1 lemon for zesting
  • salt flakes and black pepper
  • 3 pasta sheets (about 20cm x 26cm)
  • Anchovy sauce
  • 30g/12 anchovy fillets
  • 60g butter
  • 500g stock (chicken, parmesan or vegetable)
  • 200g yoghurt
  1. Peel the garlic, place in a small saucepan and cover with the oil. Place over a high heat for one minute, then turn to the gentlest simmer and slowly cook the cloves until soft and just starting to colour (about 18 minutes). Pour the garlic and oil into a bowl to cool, and set aside.
  2. Peel the potato, cut into large, even chunks and place in a saucepan of cold water, well covered. Add the salt, bring to a boil, and then simmer the potatoes over a gentle heat until fully cooked.
  3. Drain the potatoes and place in a bowl. Pour over half of the garlic oil and mix well. You want to break the potatoes up until you have a mixture of misshapen chunky bits and smaller bits. Allow this mixture to cool before adding 200 grams of the ricotta, half the parmesan, the sage and the whole garlic cloves. Mix well, season generously and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ricotta and oil from the garlic. It may look a little curdled and weird but don’t worry. Set aside.
  5. Blanch your fresh pasta sheets in boiling salted water until soft and cooked just past al dente (one to two minutes each), remove into a bowl of iced water and, once cooled, lay on a tea towel to dry.
  6. Once your sheets are dry, lay a sheet of pasta on a bench with the long side closest to you. Place a third of your mix in a line along the bottom of the sheet, leaving half a centimetre from the base edge. Get a third of your ricotta oil mix and spread this along the rest of the pasta sheet, again leaving a half-centimetre space from the top edge. Sprinkle over a third of the remaining parmesan and grate a little lemon zest over the top.
  7. Using both hands, tightly roll the pasta from the base into a log. Place the rotolo into a tray with clean cloths in between to separate the rolls. Repeat this process with the remaining pasta. Let the rotolo sit at least four hours or overnight to set.
  8. To make the sauce, place the anchovy fillets and butter into a cold saucepan on a medium heat and use a spoon to mash the mixture as it warms until you have a smooth paste. Add the stock, bring to a boil and then simmer gently for about two hours. You will be left with about 400 millilitres of sauce base. Set aside.
  9. Preheat your oven to 160°C, fan-forced.
  10. Once you are ready, cut your rotolo logs into 3.5-centimetre pieces (you should have about 24). Place them onto a lined baking dish, sitting up with space between each piece, and cook until hot for 25-30 minutes. It is ready once your pasta has bits of golden and darker brown.
  11. Meanwhile, to finish the sauce, bring the base up to a boil and then remove it from the heat. Use a stick blender to mix in the yoghurt. (A blender will work and a whisk is adequate too, although your sauce won’t be as fluffy.) Re-warm slightly, being very careful not to boil the sauce, as it may split. Season to taste. You should have a lovely light and fluffy sauce.
  12. Spoon a generous puddle of sauce into individual shallow bowls and place the rotolo, base side up, onto the sauce. Serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Note: If you are making your own dough, you will need a base of about 200 grams of pasta flour. If your final sheets, bought or made, are smaller, don’t worry, you may just need an extra sheet and to divide the contents by four.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 10, 2023 as "Pasta wrap party".

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