Rotolo ripieno: Savory Pastry Roll for Dinner!

Now, this Rotolo ripieno is one of my favorite dishes to make.  Because I get an awesome dinner, adored by my daughters, and which include all the components necessary for a satisfying meal.  Meat, veggies and carbs, all rolled up into one delectable, visually appealing package.  First time I had it was in Portici, a few years ago, at a New Year’s Eve party in the beautiful apartment of a very close friend of my sister.  We were up on the seventh floor, with the same stunning panorama of the Bay of Naples I grew up with, even though her building was located in a different part of town.  But a small city Portici remains, so that million-dollar view is available to all those who live closer to the sky.  The crowd was lively and handsome, professional people dressed up in the latest styles, relaxed and comfortable with each other, since they were all long-time friends.  Allora, I didn’t really know anybody in this group, but being “the sister from America”, everyone was extremely fascinated and curious about me.  And my desserts.  Well, of course I baked a large pan of soft and golden Chocolate Chip Bars, and helped my sister make a traditional All-American Cheesecake.  They loved them!  Couldn’t get enough, I was assaulted with requests for the recipes.  You see, my friends, Italians go for the food first and foremost.  New Year’s Eve, you’ll say, so flowing champagne or at least prosecco or spumante…But no, not quite.  Though the place was packed, there were perhaps 3 or 4 bottles of wine waiting in the back of the laden dining room table.  And they weren’t touched till the traditional midnight toast.  That’s it. Cin cin, auguri, kiss kiss, stop.  Nobody was more than sipping sporadically, no one got even slightly intoxicated.  They were too busy, these Neapolitan connoisseurs, to taste, appraise, enjoy the delicacies that every one had contributed: rosemary-scented veal roasts, puff pastry tarts filled with cheeses and prosciutto, lavish lasagne, exquisite tartine – dainty hours d’ouvres made with tiny white bread squares and savory pastes of anchovies, olives, etc. –  savory brioches, and of course beautiful Rotoli ripieni.  There was music, yes, romantic songs, and many of the women wanted to dance,  But guess what? No way the men were going to accommodate them! Sadly, the majority of Italian men don’t like to dance…but much prefer to set up the hundreds of rounds of fireworks that traditionally light up the midnight sky in every part of Italy.  Everyone in the building was out on the balconies, blowing up whatever it is that people use for such spectacles, and the noise level was very excitingly elevated.  Amazing to me (not a fireworks devotee), how much fun they were all having with that Boom Bang Baraboom, while the women attempted to dance on their own (not pleased!) – little boys playing war zone, I guess. So here is my sister’s recipe for that delicious Stuffed Roll that I shall always associate with that Capodanno spent watching the darkened Bay of Naples explode enthusiastically into the new year.

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