Monday, April 09, 2007

Honeycomb Cannelloni

Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese for grating
500g/1lb 2oz good quality cannelloni tubes
olive oil

for the sauce
a small handful of dried porcini
150ml /5.5oz olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely diced
1 large red onion, peeled and finely diced
1 leek, trimmed, outer leaves discarded, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
5 portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
5x400g tins of tomatoes
a large bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped

for the spinach
680g/1&1/2 lb fresh spinach
nutmeg for grating

for a quick white sauce
285ml/1/2 pint single cream
500ml/ 17.5 oz crème fraiche
4 good quality anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped
handful of grated parmesan cheese

First find a pan that will hold all your cannelloni, snugly, standing up.

Preheat to 190c/375f
Make your sauce:
Put the porcini in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Heat a pan and add the oil, carrots, celery, onion, and leek. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and portebello. Remove the porcini from the bowl and add to the pan, and cook for another 5 minutes. Strain the porcini liquid into the pot with a wineglass of water. Allow the liquid to reduce slightly, then add the tomatoes, and chopped basil stalks, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for up to 45 minutes, then tear in the basil leaves.

Prepare spinach:
Throw the spinach in a pan with a splash of oil , stir and leave it to wilt down. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Set aside.

White sauce:
Mix together all white sauce ingredients, and check the seasoning.

Get your baking dish and spoon in about 1/2 inch of the cheese sauce, sprinkle with parmesan and top with the spinach. Ladle in half of your sauce then press the cannelloni tubes down into the sauce. The sauce should come about halfway up the tubes. Spoon over the rest of the sauce, smoothing it down the holes. Pour over the remaining cheese sauce, then sprinkle over some parmesan, drizzle with oil and bake for 45 minutes.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I have been looking at for a while, but just hadn’t gotten around to. I finally tried it the other day and it was excellent. I had thought that the fact that all the cannelloni tubes were standing up was really just kind of funny, and would make me laugh when I did it, and these things are true, but it’s also a lot easier. Anyone who has ever tried to hand stuff a cannelloni tube without breaking it can attest to that.

It’s also different because most of the cannelloni I have had in the past was stuffed with cheese, but these are stuffed with the sauce, which is practically all vegetables (by the way, be sure to mince your vegetables really small or they won’t easily fit into the tubes). In the end it makes them somewhat lighter, and quite a bit healthier I would think.

The combinations of flavors are really wonderful. The cheese sauce is not overpowering, it just blends well, and the spinach layer not only really fills out the dish, but it also meant I didn’t need to make a side green veg to go with it.

The only down side to this dish is that it’s a bit hard to serve without mangling. Not as hard as I thought it would be, but hard enough that it looks a lot prettier in the pot then out. On the other hand, even if you mash it up and smoosh it all together, it will still be delicious!


Anonymous said...

Looks awesome! You've inspired me to give it a shot...

AteThat said...

So glad!
Let me know how it goes.

Anonymous said...

I love this dish! It tastes wonderful and rich - the white sauce gives it that something extra.

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Andrew said...

I'm planning on making this recipe but I can't decide if I should use regular or oven ready cannelloni. Any suggestions?

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Elliott Broidy said...

Looks easy enough for me!

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Christian said...

Have made this a couple of times now. It is a winner. I boost is with a portion of mince, I used 500 grams. But have also up sized the rest of the portions as I cook for 10.

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