Thursday, July 19, 2007

Paola's Easy Cannelloni




This past weekend I noticed that there was a new product at my local health food store- spelt lasagna sheets. I'm a fan of spelt's nutritional values, so I didn't hesitate to throw these into my basket, and the first thing on my mind was not lasagna, but cannelloni! I'm not that fond of having the oven on in the summer but this is one of the meals for which I gladly make an exception. After all, there's no rule that you have to stay by the oven until dinner's ready and it's so much fun to sit outside in the garden with glass of wine in hand while enjoying the lovely smells that come from inside the kitchen. The fantastic thing about this meal, is that it is so easy. There is no fidgety cannelloni shells to fill because you simply use lasagna sheets instead! I remember the first time I made this meal and how I thought this was the ultimate revelation. Just spoon a bit of cheese on a lasagna sheet, roll it up and that was all that was to it. How simple life could be! The most work you'll be doing is making some nice pasta sauce to go with it, but if you think it's even too hot for that or you simply don't want to bother, a jar of good pasta sauce will do just fine!

Here's the recipe:

Paola's Easy Cannelloni

For the sauce:
*500g passata
*1 red onion, finely chopped
*3 fresh sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
*1 fresh sprig of rosemary, left whole
*3 tbsps dried oregano
*1 tsp rosemary sugar (this is simply some sugar which I infuse with a sprig of fresh rosemary. I add this to most of my tomato based sauces to lift up their flavor.)
*2 cloves of garlic, pressed
*3 tbsps olive oil
*1 tbsp Madeira
*salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a heavy- bottomed pan. Add the onion, garlic and sprig of rosemary. No need to chop the rosemary, just throw in the whole thing. Sauté gently for 8 minutes until onions are softened. Add passata and rest of ingredients and simmer gently for about half an hour. Remove sprig of rosemary (which by now should be utterly naked!) and discard. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.


For the cannelloni:
*250g lasagna sheets (14 sheets)
*200g soft goat's cheese
*250g ricotta
*herbs of your choice (I used some more oregano and some fresh, finely chopped rosemary)
*salt and pepper to taste
*Parmesan

Preheat oven to 180C. Boil sheets for 3 minutes and then drain on a tea cloth. Don't forget to add a little oil to the water so your sheets don't stick and they are easier to handle. Make the filling by combining the two cheeses with the herbs and salt and pepper. Spoon a good, rounded tablespoon of the mixture on each sheet and roll up. Place the rolls in a greased casserole and pour tomato sauce over the top. Finish off with some grated Parmesan and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with some fresh basil leaves scattered over the top, a green salad and a bottle of red wine! Serves 3-4.