Arrotolato (Meatloaf with spinach filling)

I am sure that in some novel the arrotolato fiorentino must be celebrated as it deserves  but, unfortunately, I never encountered it in my readings.  Still I want to celebrate a great Italian writer, the father of the modern novel: Giovanni Boccaccio. Born in Certaldo, a lovely small town close both to Florence and Siena he wrote the Decameron in the years 1348–53.  The plot is about 10 young people (7 women and 3 men) gathered in a country house to escape from plague-stricken Florence in 1348. Their retreat is lovely but boring so in the course of a fortnight, each member of the party has a turn as king or queen over the others, deciding the activities of the day, the walks, the conversations but more than everything their alternate storytelling. This storytelling occupies 10 days of the fortnight (the rest being set aside for personal adornment or for religious devotions); hence the title of the book itself, Decameron, or “Ten Days’ Work.”

Certaldo is not far from where I was born and grow, it is an happy place, the medieval part of the town, with Boccaccio’s home, is on the top a low hill that dominates a classic Tuscan countryside.

certaldoCourtesy of

Is there any special reason why the arrotolato recall me Certaldo and Boccaccio? The fact is that, back (very very back) to the high school I used to have a friend from Certaldo and it is in her home that I first tasted the arrotolato. My family is not originally from Tuscany, but from Umbria, a region a bit southern and at home my mom and my nana were cooking mostly in the Umbrian fashion. My friend’s mom prepares the arrotolato using the Mortadella, but my son doesn’t like it and I use Prosciutto instead. To be honest the Mortadella gives a unique flavour but what wouldn’t you do for your own son?

So let’s begin, let’s have our kitchens full with the aroma of Tuscany and please, share with me, did you like the Prosciutto or the Mortadella better? Did you use other kind of cured meat available in your area? How was it? It is your turn to share with me now…



500 kg ground beef
1 egg
3 tsp. Parmesan cheese

Roll 5 thick slices of Prosciutto or 2 slice of big Mortadella

1 Kg of fresh spinach or a package of frozen

3 tsp. of butter




  1. Heat oven at 180 C.
    2. In a bowl whisk Parmesan, egg, salt, pepper. Whisk the egg in a large bowl until blended. Whisk in the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper, then whisk in the Parmesan.
    3. Form the meat into meatloaf. Take wax paper and arrange the slices of prosciutto or mortadella in a rectangle shape, then flatten the meat less the 1 cm high.
    4. Sautee fresh or frozen spinach in a pan with the butter. Until well shriveled.
    let cool in a bowl
  2. Spread the filling evenly on flattened meat.
    6. Roll the long ways of rectangle.
    7. Put inside bread pan.
    8. Cook for 40 minutes at 180° C.



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