The first time I made this cannelloni was for a family gathering back in the autumn, specifically for a veggie family member. Although veggie and omnivorous family alike raved about it, it didn’t quite hit the spot for me. So I decided to play a little bit with the combinations: leeks rather than onions; sage rather than rosemary; ricotta rather than mozzarella. What I like with this kind of cooking is the freedom to play around – although I feel that I’ve reached a great recipe, I’ll keep doing things differently to see what happens. This is the test of a great basic recipe: changeable enough so that you want to keep making it, solid enough to know that it will deliver a delicious dinner every time.
It’s a particularly good if you are making a big family lunch or if you are having people round – it can be put together in advance and then put to one side or kept in the fridge for a couple of hours until you are ready to put it in the oven. (Which either means time to prep other food, or a nap before guests arrive…usually the latter!) It is also incredibly tasty as leftovers the next day. And let’s face it, leftovers is my favourite kind of food – all the taste with none of the effort.
Rebekah left a great comment on the blog – nice little recipe for baked kale, which I made immediately, adding in some whole garlic cloves and some cherry tomatoes – a truly excellent side dish. As Rebekah said – just place the kale on a baking tray or in a casserole dish, toss in olive oil and season with salt and pepper (and if you like, two whole garlic cloves and cherry tomatoes). Bake at about 180C/ 160C fan for around 10 minutes, or until the edges of the kale begin to crisp. So tasty – I love comments like that, thanks Rebekah! Recipe after the jump.
Butternut squash, sage and ricotta cannelloni
1 large butternut squash
2 packs of fresh lasagne sheets
1) Chop the leek (just the white parts), and fry gently in some olive oil in a large frying pan until soft, around 5 minutes.
2) Chop the butternut squash into chunks, and add to the frying pan, with about 4 tablespoons of water. Crush in 2 cloves of garlic and a handful of chopped fresh sage. Leave to cook until the butternut squash is soft, around 40 minutes. If the squash is drying out at all, add in another splash of water.
3) Heat the passata in a pot, with some garlic, sage and a bay leaf, and season well with salt and pepper. Leave to cook through at a low heat for about 10 minutes.
4) When the butternut squash is well cooked through and few soft, take off the heat and mash well. It doesn’t have to be smooth and puree-like, but it does help to get most of the chunks well mashed.
5) If you need to, prepare the fresh lasagne sheets – which is normally cooking them in boiling water for 5 minutes until they are soft. Drain and put to one side – be very careful, they tear easily once cooked.
6) Preheat the oven to 180C, 160 fan.
7) Take a large baking dish, and assemble the cannelloni into it: take a sheet of lasagne, place 1 ½ tablespoons of butternut squash mix in a line down the middle from top to bottom. Add a little ricotta cheese, and then roll the tube up and place into the dish. Once you have the first layer of cannelloni tubes along the bottom of the dish, pour over about half of the passata, making sure to spread it out into the corners. Scatter over some ricotta, and begin on the next layer. Once all the cannelloni tubes are in, pour over the rest of the passata, spreading to the edges and sprinkle over the last of the ricotta.
8) Bake for about 45 minutes. The cannelloni doesn’t have to be cooked immediately; it can be left to one side or in the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking.