Involtini come in so many different guises, because the preparation of them often depends on what you have on hand. Instead of the beef, you can use thick slices of eggplants, fried in olive to make them soft and willing to be rolled up. You can add olives to the tomato sauce, or other herbs inside. You can layer a piece of prosciutto inside the involtini too, or a thin omelette of beaten egg. If you don't have Pecorino or Parmesan, use a piece of some other sturdy, good melting cheese. This is a good dish for making in advance—it gives the dish time for flavor-mingling. —Emiko
thin slices of beef or veal
garlic cloves, chopped finely
parsley, chopped finely (plus more for garnish)
pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated
whole garlic cloves
tin (400 grams or 14 oz) tomato pulp or peeled tomatoes
Lay the slices of beef on a chopping board and sprinkle them evenly with the chopped garlic, parsley, cheese and season well with salt and pepper. Roll them up and secure with a toothpick or kitchen string.
Heat olive oil in a skillet and sear the involtini on all sides until golden brown. Pour over the white wine and let sizzle for a minute or two. Add the garlic, bay leaves and pour over the tomato (if using whole peeled tomatoes, break them up first—some like to cut them with scissors directly in the tin, my mother in law likes to squish them in her hands!). Add a splash of water if necessary and bring to a simmer. Cook the beef rolls in this tomato sauce on a gentle simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Season with salt and pepper along the way. If the sauce is reducing too quickly, add a splash of water. When ready to serve, sprinkle over some more parsley.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.