It’s been a while since I wrote a foodie post, despite having promised one, so here is a delicious recipe the Daughter and I discovered just recently. For a change this recipe doesn’t come from my mother, but from a little old Italian cookbook I picked up years ago [* I'll post details of the book at the end]. Some of the details, like how to squeeze sloppy filling into cannelloni shells is all ours.
Shopping list :
1 packet of cannelloni shells. [Or one packet of lasagna sheets].
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 cup of cottage cheese
4 tablespoons Heavy White Sauce [don't worry the recipe is provided and makes a white sauce with no lumps!]
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
Also plain flour, butter and milk for the white sauce, and
Onions, garlic, tomato paste and fresh tomatoes for the red sauce.
Pre-heat oven to 375F or 180C.
Okay, let’s start with the red sauce as it requires the most cooking. For about 1/2 a kg of tomatoes, peel and chop one medium brown onion and gently saute until translucent and golden brown. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic and saute for another minute. Add the tomato paste and stir in before adding the chopped, fresh tomatoes. When the tomatoes mush down, add a little extra water and allow to simmer while you make the white sauce.
White Sauce. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When the butter is melted, add flour and mix into a smooth paste. Take the pan away from the heat and immediately stir in 1 cup of milk [cold]. Then add a pinch of salt and white pepper. Place the pan back on the heat and stir until the sauce comes to a gentle boil. Simmer for 1 minute further until the sauce has the consistency of thick cream. Remove from heat.
Keep the red sauce simmering but make sure it doesn’t boil dry!
Cannelloni stuffing. In a large bowl mix together the parmesan, cottage cheese, 4 tablespoons of the white sauce, the egg, nutmeg, and the salt and pepper.
And now for the fun part! Getting the stuffing into the pre-made cannelloni shells was not working with a spoon so we tried an icing bag. That might have worked if we had had a big enough funnel thing but they were all too small. In desperation we took a square of aluminium foil, folded it in half once, and then a second time. With scissors we cut off the tip of the folded point of the foil. Then we opened one ‘leaf’ of the foil and had a disposable piping bag. Cooking origami.
We went through 3 foil piping bags and stuffed about 12 cannelloni shells.
[If you can't find the cannelloni shells you can make your own using lasagna sheets. You will have to dip each sheet into boiling water for a few seconds to soften. Drain and lay flat, placing the filling on the sheet lengthwise. Roll up and seal.]
With the shells stuffed, we lightly buttered a baking dish, spread the rest of the white sauce over the bottom and laid the cannelloni on top. The red sauce we poured over the cannelloni. Then into the oven.
The recipe called for 1/2 an hour in the oven but we left it a bit longer [maybe 45 minutes] so the cannelloni were a little mushy, but the flavour! As a meat-lover, I can honestly say I would eat this meatless cannelloni for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
I know making everything from scratch seems like a lot of work, but if you make things in sequence, the whole thing only takes an hour and the result is well worth the effort.
Bon appetit mes amis!
* The Italian Cookbook by Maria Luisa Taglienti, copyright 1955