I’ve eaten a lot of cheese and spinach rolls over the years, often from country town bakeries where they are, apart from a salad and cheese sandwich, the only savory vegetarian option on the menu. The best ever spinach rolls come from the French Lettuce Bakery in Melbourne, but too often the humble spinach and cheese roll can be woefully bad, like (wish I hadn’t eaten that) bad. I don’t know a professional baker can mess up such a simple thing but it happens a lot with vegetarian food. On my recent flight back from Tasmania I ordered the ‘special’ vegetarian meal which combined all the dietary restrictions in one by making it both vegan and gluten-free. My special meal consisted of tasteless rice bread, filled with some desiccated spinach and shriveled white beans – it was like trying to eat a dried up sponge. I gave up after two mouthfuls and requested the cheese and cracker option.
My last spinach and cheese roll bakery experience from a Banjo’s bakery cafe in Tasmania was actually quite reasonable, not French Lettuce standard but decent enough. When I got back to Sydney I baked a batch of spinach and ricotta rolls to take to a picnic that was moved indoors because we were rained out by the beginning of a three day deluge. I always use frozen spinach and puff pastry in these rolls so they come together very simply and easily, making them just the thing to whip up for a rainy weekend picnic.
Spinach and ricotta rolls
Makes 24 rolls
- 250 grams frozen spinach (defrosted)
- 250 grams ricotta
- 1 small onion minced finely
- 3-4 tablespoons of finely minced soft herbs – dill, parsley, mint or whatever you have available
- 1/2 cup of grated cheddar, Parmesan ( or any leftover cheese you want to use up)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 sheets puff pastry
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- another egg beaten together with a little milk for pastry wash
- Preheat oven to 220C or 200C fan forced (425F)
- Saute minced onion in some olive oil or butter and allow to cool.
- In bowl mix together spinach, ricotta, onion, herbs, cheddar cheese and egg until well mixed and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Cut pastry in half. Place spinach ricotta mix down the centre of each half. Brush edges of long pastry edges with egg wash and make loose rolls. (be careful not to make the rolls too tight as the mixture will expand and puff up when baked) Cut each long roll into four rolls.
- Line two oven trays with baking trays with baking paper. Place rolls on baking trays and brush tops with egg wash.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.