Saltimbocca à la romaine

saltimbocca2For the many years I’ve been making this Roman dish of veal and proscuitto rolled up tightly with garlic and fresh herbs, I’ve always assumed it took its name from the shape of the rolls when they’re sliced after cooking. With only a minor stretch of imagination, they look like little saltimbanques — French for ‘acrobats’ — somersaulting across the plate. As it happens, the Italian name — saltimbocca — translates as ‘jumps into the mouth.’ But is close enough to the Italian word for ‘acrobat’ — saltimbanca — for me to feel vindicated. The unknown originator of the dish no doubt had a taste for word play…

Saltimbocca à la romaine / Rolled veal and proscuitto ‘acrobats’

Whatever its linguistic origins, this flavor-packed dish is a breeze to prepare. While it’s cooking — just 20 minutes — you can make some pasta or a simple salad to serve alongside. In a variation from the original, I usually cut the rolls into thinner slices once they’re cooked to give full display to the pretty acrobat shape. It’s a favorite of my daughter and her teenage friends, and makes a nice dish for warm summer evenings, accompanied by a chilled dry rosé. Happy cooking!

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