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« Salmon Ravioli | Main | Italian Cenci »

Pamela Sheldon John's Pork Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach

Cucina Povera is an expression in Italian cooking that literally means "the poor kitchen".  It is used when referring to peasant cooking and having to make do with what you have and not wasting anything.  I was recently sent a copy of "Cucina Povera", Pamela Sheldon Johns' beautiful new cookbook in which she has shared just these kind of dishes from Italy.  She has a number of interviews with her Tuscan friends who recall what it was like to cook and eat through hard times. It's a very interesting book to read aside from the great recipes it has in it, like classic Ribollita, Farro Salad and a cookie I love - Ugly but Good (Brutti ma Buoni).  

Pamela Sheldon Johns is a great cooking teacher and cookbook author who lives in Tuscany and gives culinary workshops all over Italy, including a fabulous one along the Amalfi Coast - check out her great itinerary. She and her husband also run a bed and breakfast in Tuscany. Whenever I see her name attached to a recipe, I know I can count on it.  She's also written a number of books for Williams Sonoma.


When I saw this recipe in her book, I definitely wanted to make it.  I like to make pork loin because it's lean and cheap, but it is like chicken breast - no flavor.  So I love this recipe, in which you pound slices of the loin until they are thin and then fill them with a moist ricotta and spinach mixture and wrap them up in slices of pancetta. Braising them in a pan produces a lot of flavor with a little white wine.  It's a simple recipe that is easy to make and delicious. 


Pork Rolls Stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach
Involtini di Maiale


for a printable recipe click here

serves 4


  • 8 ounces fresh spinach, steamed and finely chopped
  • ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 pound boneless pork loin, sliced into 8 pieces
  • 8 thin slices pancetta
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup dry white wine



In a medium bowl, combine the spinach and ricotta and stir to blend. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Set aside.

Place a slice of pork between two pieces of parchment paper, and roll with a rolling pin until flattened to an even fitness, about an eighth of an inch. Repeat to flatten the remaining slices.

Spread a thin layer of the spinach mixture on top of a slice of pork, leaving a quarter inch border. Roll it and wrap with a slice of pancetta, then fasten with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining pork, filling, and pancetta.

In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and sear the rolls for about two minutes on each side.  Add the wine and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer briskly for 7 to 8 minutes, turning the rolls once or twice to heat them through. Serve at once.


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Reader Comments (16)

Oh I am most definitely making this for supper this week. My honey and I love pork loin and I'm wild about spinach anything. LOL So glad I found your blog.

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeaWitch

Lovely old-school recipe. Involtini are always a great surprise for guests--and easy to make. Great photos. Ken

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen Rivard

It is a great cookbook but I've never tried this recipe. But now I must as I never know what to do with pork loin--it always dries out too quickly. This may just be the trick!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchristina baglivi tinglof

I love the Cucina Povera book, it reminds me of my grandmother's cooking and some photos take me to her house! Fantastic book. Recipes are simple yet full with flavor, like this one. Those rolls can be served to a king! :)

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarina@Picnic at Marina

Love your posts and photography. However , to me pork is a condiment or spice , thus I will be making this with chicken breasts instead of that it will be awesome. THANKS

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwes

Cucina povera is always the way to go and healthy too...being italian and growing up eating all authentic italian meals I am happy to have passed the same great foods onto my family!!! Great blog!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAntonette

Definately a yummypost!
Love from Spain

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarialisa

These look wonderful! Perfect easy dish with few ingredients to make while we're here in Florida - not a lot of work - Thanks!

January 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda McCardel

Going to get pork today and make this! Thanks for sharing this, and for all the wonderfully delicious recipes!

January 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

Made this last night and it was a hit with my family. So easy to prepare and a complete meal in one pan. 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg was plenty. Thanks so much for this recipe.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTanya

These look and sound delicious! They'll be on my dinner table REAL soon!

February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie @ Kiss My Whisk

I made this for our supper this evening and it was out of this world. So easy and I loved have a dish that allowed me to use fresh spinach. My honey was over the moon with this and the house smelled heavenly. Keep them coming.

February 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSea Witch

My mouth is watering! This sounds like a great cookbook to add to the collection. I have to say, whenever I drop by your blog I find such fabulous food. Love the cenci, too!

February 5, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcellina

Fantastic recipes and very easy to make. I am searching for such great dishes for a long time and finally I found this. Pics are great and dishes are looking amazing. Thanks a lot for sharing this with us.

March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEathan

I have made many recipes from this site and in truth they are ALWAYS on target. I enjoy the photos and the step by step instructions which are easy to follow. I made these pork loins for Mothers Day and the Raspberry Almond Cake for dessert. The cake was wonderful and a real find if your trying to bake GF. Unfortunately the pork loins I felt were too bland. I followed the recipe to the letter and I feel by adding the wine and simmering it lost lots of flavor. Next time I will skip the last step and brown for a few more minutes as the simmering gave the pork a boiled flat taste.

May 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFoodie

I love using pork loin, but I think,I'll be using boneless,skinless chicken breast,instead.This recipe sound a little bit like Saltimbocco,except there's no parmesan cheese.

June 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlourdes guzman

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