Arrollado Primavera (Argentine Pionono)
For most of those celebrating the holiday season in the northern hemisphere, decorations and traditions directly reflect the harsh weather outside. Children and adults alike hold out hope for a white Christmas, and warm, comfy sweaters are normally the order of the day. Families customarily gather and sit down to an elaborate holiday meal featuring rich, heavy foods designed to ward off the chill of winter.
In contrast, below the equator, the holidays fall smack-dab in the southern hemisphere’s summer. It routinely reaches 85°F or more in Argentina at the end of December, so as you can imagine, a calorie-laden, gut-busting meal is not as welcome here on Christmas. Most Argentines can claim roots in Italy or Spain, and some folks do indeed succumb to the pull of European tradition, with its more substantial holiday spreads; however, the majority of merrymakers opt for lighter fare at Christmas dinner.
Arrollado primavera—made with a thin, lightly sweetened sponge cake typically known as a pionono in Argentina—is filled with ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce, roasted red peppers and mayonnaise and rolled up jelly roll-style. As a dish that incorporates ingredients that go down a bit easier in the heat and humidity of late December, pionono or arrollado primavera is frequently found on holiday tables in Argentina.
Piononos, both savory and sweet, are common here, so it’s easy to find pre-made sponge cakes at the supermarket or a local bakery. If ready-made piononos aren’t available where you live, follow the link below for a simple sponge cake recipe.
1 store-bought pionono or 1 recipe for a homemade pionono
½ lb. sliced boiled ham
½ lb. sliced deli cheese
1 tomato, cubed
½ of a small head of lettuce, finely shredded
1 large red pepper, roasted and chopped
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Optional: chopped green olives, chopped hard-boiled eggs
Unroll the pionono and spread an even layer of mayonnaise over the top. Layer the ham, cheese, tomato, lettuce and red pepper over the cake. Sprinkle with a pinch of freshly ground pepper. Carefully roll the pionono into a tight spiral, and slice off the ends with a serrated knife. If desired, spread another layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the pionono and decorate it with pieces of red pepper, olives or other vegetables. Using a serrated knife, slice the pionono into 1-inch thick pieces to reveal the “pinwheel” design and colorful ingredients inside.