Waitrose supermarket regularly slips marketing food porn into your shopping bag if you’re not watching carefully. Unpacking the fruit and veg later from the floorful of cotton and linen shopping bags you unexpectedly stumble upon this slim volume getting down and dirty with the spuds, or slicing it up with a loaf of bread.
“Follow this recipe and you’ll be popular and beautiful like the laughing people in the photos! Oh, and don’t forget to buy all the ingredients from Waitrose.”
I would have been more popular for instance if I had cooked the recipe for Cannelloni which steamed invitingly off the page. In front of a log fire which was in the background of the shot if I recall providing that additional look of heartiness and warmth to the shot. I’m not entirely sure that detail is correct though, as I binned the magazine to the recycling after a quick flick through it.
It did inspire me to have a go at making a cannelloni dish though…
Tahini isn’t an obvious choice I’ll admit for an Italian dish, however this was really good I have to say.
Was in the larder…
- lasagne sheets
- light tahini
- basil pesto
- half an onion, chopped
- clove of garlic, chopped
- fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
- course crushed black pepper to taste
- a “tray from the farm shop” worth of cherry tomatoes
- six smallish mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup of blended, presteamed spinach
- 1 cup of cooked adzuki beans
- tomato paste
- miso paste
- red wine and water
- olive oil
A frenzy of activity…
Here goes; a lot of this happened in parallel so it didn’t take too long I suppose to put it together, but it was certainly a frantic 30 minutes or so before it went in the oven and the bench was wiped down. On the other hand, don’t assume that everything happened in a linear fashion in the order that it is listed here.
1. Have this ready first though… Blend together the spinach, and a very generous pouring of the tahini, and a few generous spoonfuls of pesto.
2. The lasagne sheets. For a meal for two, I used five sheets (dry size each approx. 15cms x 15cms) – I seem to have some sort of tribal memory that you should pre-cook as many sheets as you actually really need, plus one spare, as they ALWAYS stick together in the pot. Boil at least 5 cms deep of water in a pan that is easily large enough for the lasagne sheets to cook in horizontally. If I was cooking any pasta, I’d normally pour a little olive oil into the empty pan before filling it with water as it helps to stop the pasta sticking together. I’d done that before on the odd occasion I’d precooked lasagne but the leetle sheets still always stuck together. This time however inspiration struck and instead once I’d got the water on to boil I poured about 1/2 teaspoon of oil onto one side of each sheet and then “painted” it with the basting brush. I can report here that rhe sheets did NOT stuck to each other! Further testing will elevate this to being a new item of Kitchen Lore but in the meantime it has a gold rating as a Kitchen Theory trick. While the sheets are cooking to just pre-al dente fill the (clean) kitchen sink with some cold water, and also fill a tray with cold water. Remove the paste sheets carefully from the hot water one by one which your favourite implement and drop them into the sink of water. Rinse thoroughly, then transfer to the tray for carrying back to your work surface.
3. Smear each sheet with a thick, even layer of the tahini and spinach. Roll and place lined up in a very large baking dish. The rolls will get significantly longer as the pasta continues to cook in the oven, so remember to cater for that in selecting the tray.
4. Meanwhile….de-skin all the cherry tomatoes using boiling then cold water baths. Keep the tomatoes aside. Compost all the skins.
5. Lightly cook all the other ingredients except the herbs to create a fairly saucy tomato flavoured italian mushroom and beany sauce thing. You need enough of this to be able to evenly cover the cannelloni rolls so adjust if necessary with another mushroom and some more wine etc. Once cooked sufficiently, then turn off and add the cherry tomatoes and the fresh herbs. The goal here is to not have the tomatoes get all mushed up. Presentation iz everything darlink! The herbs are added only now so their flavour released during the baking stage, rather than boiling off during this preparatory stage.
6. Pour the sauce over the cannelloni, taking care to make sure that all pasta has some sauce on it.
7. Bake covered for about 30 minutes.
Served with a large bowl of mixed olives and some fresh baked wholeflour bread.
I have to add that this was very good. Though I am of the opinion that I wouldn’t make this regularly as it is a lot of additional work for what is basically a variation on lasagne.