Thank you to farmersdaughter for posting Marcella's recipe for pasta roses w/ ham and fontina (see link and pic below). I don't make fresh pasta, so when I stumbled upon fresh pasta sheets at my farmer's market on Sat., I knew exactly what I was to make for dinner that night.
I couldn't get unboiled, unsmoked ham at my neighborhood market and didn't have the time or energy to hunt some down, so opted for a good quality subtly smoked deli ham. I've never worked w/ fresh pasta sheets before and, upon reflection, the ones I bought were a tad too thick for my liking. Probably should have par-cooked them in water a little longer than the few seconds called for in the recipe. Flavor was good though.
Overall, the recipe was very clear and took me a total of about an hour before putting the roses into the oven. I was working at a careful pace. There is some prep work and attention to detail and finesse that is needed in crafting these pretty roses. I shredded the cheese like farmersdaughter suggested, which worked very well. Served w/ steamed asparagus dressed in a mustard/lemon juice/EVOO vinaigrette.
While the presentation of this dish is on the delicate, girly side, the taste is actually very homey and reminded me of many cheesy baked pasta dishes of my past. It was good, but flavor became a bit repetitive and too sweet for me w/ successive bites. Because of the rose shape, approaching it w/ knife and fork was a little awkward. I would make this again but only for a special occasion (like Valentine's or having company over) and would only serve one w/ a couple of asparagus spears as a starter. Also think this would make a great vegetarian main if roasted zucchini and/or red bell pepper were subbed in.
Ok, here's my Marcella question: I've made a couple of her recipes now and have noted other recipes that people post. Also have recently acquired the "Marcella Says" book, my first Marcella book. I am starting to believe that her recipes veer to the sweet side (due to slow-cooking veggies, liberal use of milk, cream, butter) and don't include many piquant, salty, or spicy flavors to offset sweetness or enhance complexity. Is this a hasty generalization? Is this her style or perhaps true to the Italian dishes she chooses to include? Curious what Marcella devotees have to say...