I adapted this recipe from an Australian amateur cooking show I love, My Kitchen Rules: 1) adding meatballs for my meat-o-saurous man; 2) using organic, store-bought (gasp!) pasta and sauce instead of making them from scratch and 3) swapping fresh ricotta for mozzarella, because my delicatessen makes the most beautiful creamy fresh ricotta and it is a sin to eat buffalo mozzarella any way other than straight from brine to mouth.

birds’ nest pasta
lasagna sheets (5 were more than enough for 2 people)
bechamel sauce
thinly sliced leg ham
fresh ricotta cheese
rosemary and lamb sausages
pasta sauce

1. Prepare bechamel sauce and meatballs.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is simply no reason to make meatballs from scratch when you have a gourmet butcher in the neighborhood. Simply squeeze out of the casing, shape into balls, roll in your favorite flavoring if desired (spice rub, breadcrumbs, brown sugar, cracked peppercorns…) and voila.

2. Boil water and blanche lasagna noodles two at a time for 4 minutes until just softened.  Drain noodles and lightly cover with oil on both sides to keep from sticking.  Working quickly, layer bechamel sauce, leg ham and ricotta and roll into logs.  Place seam side down in a shallow baking dish with a small portion of sauce on the bottom to prevent sticking.  Repeat, then top with a spoonful of sauce.  Cover dish with foil, and bake at 180C (350F) for 20 minutes.

3. 15 minutes into the pasta baking time, saute meatballs over high heat until browned all over.  When browned, pop into the oven for the remainder of the time to keep warm.  After 20 minutes, remove foil from baking dish, top pasta with grated parmesan and cook for another 5 minutes uncovered.

4. To serve, slice pasta rolls into thirds, extract oh so carefully from the pan, and smoother with meatballs and warmed sauce.

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