INVOLTINI (Pork Rolls Stuffed with Roasted Pepper and Cheese)

Involtini are individual rolls of meat (often veal) that is stuffed with a variety of fillings. To tell the truth, I make a version in which grilled eggplant slices are substituted for the thin-sliced meat. Here, a ricotta stuffing is embellished with a little bit of roasted red pepper and some Parmesan cheese and used to fill thinly pounded pork tenderloin medallions. These involtini make an unusual hors d’oeuvre or appetizer, when cut into bite-sized pieces and served with a tangy-sweet tomato vinaigrette. They are also delicious served as an entrée for two, topped with a warm homemade tomato sauce. If you are serving them as an hors d’oeuvre, you will need to make the vinaigrette an hour in advance.










SERVES 4 TO 6 AS AN APPETIZER, 2 AS MAIN COURSE

1 pork tenderloin (12 to 16 ounces) – cut into 1 inch-thick medallions
1/2 cup, whole-milk ricotta
1 1/2 tablespoons, chopped roasted peppers: red bell or piquillo,
OR substitute chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon, fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon, butter
1 tablespoon, olive oil

*Tomato Vinaigrette - optional (recipe follows)

Place the pork medallions between 2 plastic “baggies” or two sheets of plastic wrap and (using a meat mallet or pounder), pound out the medallions so that they form approximately 3- by 5-inch oval scallops - taking care not to tear the meat.

In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, peppers, bread crumbs, and Parmesan. Place a rounded tablespoon of filling on each medallion and spread it out thinly to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the scallops. Roll the scallops up lengthwise (like small jelly rolls) and secure with toothpicks, inserting them so that the toothpicks are parallel to the long edge of the rolls. Sprinkle the rolls with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the rolls and cook, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Remove the rolls to a plate and allow them to rest for 5 minutes or so. Remove the toothpicks and serve the rolls whole for a main course - OR - slice the involtini crosswise into 1-inch pieces to serve them as an hors d’oeuvre. Arrange the sliced involtini on a platter and drizzle with the tomato vinaigrette - or serve them whole with warm tomato sauce as a main course. Serve warm or at room temperature.


CHEF’S NOTE: Involtini can also be grilled on a gas or charcoal barbeque grill. Thread 3 or 4 involtini crosswise onto skewers; brush with olive oil and grill 6 to 8 minutes over medium-high heat. Serve 3 rolls per person as a main course, or cut up as described above for hors d’oeuvres.

TOMATO VINAIGRETTE



3 ripe tomatoes - peeled, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons, minced shallots
1 tablespoon, balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon, red wine vinegar
1/2 cup, extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon, chopped fresh basil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper


Drain the chopped tomatoes in a small strainer or colander, pressing lightly on them to remove all the liquid. In a medium bowl, stir together the drained tomatoes, shallots, and vinegars. Whisk in the olive oil until the mixture has thickened slightly. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside for 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Whisk again just before serving.


Recipe adapted from Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork by Bruce Aidells with Lisa Weiss (Harper Collins)