Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Courgette Cannelloni

We had some friends coming over and I wanted to cook something tasty for them. I hadn't ordered enough lamb to make that go around, so I ransacked the fridge and found a couple of courgettes and a pot of ricotta - that'll do! I already had flour, eggs, a tin of tomatoes and so on, which made cannelloni an obvious choice.

First, the pasta. Quick and easy, using the method that Chef Steve Watts showed me. Stick 500g of "00" flour into the food processor, add 3 eggs and two yolks and whizz until it looks breadcrumby. It's perfect, squidge it into patties in your hands, flatten them a bit and wrap in clingfilm to rest in the fridge.

Then, tomato sauce, which couldn't be simpler. Fry up some smashed garlic, a small amount of chilli, some celery and some onions until softening. Add a tin of tomatoes, some tomato puree and a liberal scattering of oregano. Bring up to a simmer, add a squeeze of lemon and a shot of vodka and let bubble away for a while. Then season with salt, pepper and a little sugar. Done.

For the filling, I had two courgettes in the fridge and one in the garden, so to bulk the dish out I also used a few handfuls of frozen peas; having tasted the result I'm always going to include peas now. Grated the courgettes (well, got the other half to do it), then fried up the garlic and chilli with the celery and onion until softened, then added the peas to cook through. 
Once cooked I put them in the food processor, because otherwise the texture of the canelloni would be a bit weird. Then back on the stove and the grated courgettes added, cooked gently for a while to evaporate most of the moisture. I added salt and lots of pepper, then left it to cool.

When cool, I added the ricotta and put in the fridge while I rolled out the pasta sheets.

I'm not going to lie - this dough is harder to work with than my previous wetter style dough, but the results are great and it is worth the effort. I've found that giving each peice of dough a good flattening with a rolling pin first is helpful, as is splitting the dough up into small manageable peices. Then pass it through the pasta machine on the widest setting. If bits fall off, or it goes a funny shape, press them back together and pass it through again. This isn't masses of fun but it does come together eventually! 

Then you can pass it through the smaller settings until you have a long strip of pasta. Lay this on a teatowel, cover and do it again until you've run out of pasta.

For the cannelloni, I lay out each strip and put a line of filling end to end. I brushed water along the lowermost edge and rolled the pasta over to make a tube. Repeat until out of filling. I used the left over pasta to make farfalle for later in the week; it stores nicely laid out with a coating of semolina flour.

Coat the cannelloni with tomato sauce, dot the ricotta over the top and sprinkle with grated parmesan. Bake for about half an hour at 180 degrees, and enjoy - it really is a lovely meal.  

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