10 Jun 2012
This week I decided to get fancy with my vegies. It was a creamy risotto I made last week that set me thinking that I could do more than simply steam my greens (and reds and oranges) and toss them with salty butter, or olive oil and balsamic. I am a big believer of treating good produce simply - and when you have delicious veg to start with, doing more is, perhaps, gilding the lily. Plus, I am essentially lazy.
But I decided to challenge myself by making cannelloni. I consulted some recipes, got a general idea of what to do and what ingredients to use, and then made my own version up. I knew I wanted to use cabbage, as I have a Magic Pudding of a beast sitting in my fridge - no matter how often I use it, I've still got a massive lump there!
I also wanted a dark green hit: by using a forgotten head of broccoli (no doubt obscured by the giant cabbage) and some dark silverbeet leaves from my garden. I finely chopped then steamed all these - keeping the pale cabbage separate from the darker greens - then allowed them plenty of time to dry (in fact, I went and bought two climbing roses for my front garden).
Then I took my large duck roaster - a very large casserole dish with an impressive domed glass lid, apparently perfect for... roasting ducks. Who knows why I bought a 'duck roaster' - who knows what was going thru my mind - but here it is being called into service for cannelloni. I spooned some homemade pasta sauce over the base, then piled on the cabbage, for a lovely bed for the cannelloni.
To the broccoli and silverbeet I added a small tub of ricotta, a large spoonful of sour cream, and plenty of S&P til I had a squidgy mix. This I then blobbed onto some fresh cannelloni sheets - like lasagna sheets, soft and pliable, ready to roll! I filled them to bursting and then crammed them into the roaster on top of the cabbage.
The rest of the ruby-red sauce went over the top, then - and this is the only time I followed a recipe - I covered the lot with foil and put it in a 200 oven for 30 minutes. As this drew to a close, the garlic and basil from my summer sauce filled the kitchen with the most delicious aroma. Outside it may have been growing cloudy and grey, but inside it was warm and rich and heady from the garlic.
After 30 minutes I removed the foil and then sprinkled over a good handful of grated cheddar and a smaller amount of parmesan and some panko crumbs. Back in til the cheeses melted with the sauce to make a golden, gooey topping.
The silverbeet-ricotta stuffing was mellow and comforting in a way that only bland cheese and pasta can be. And underneath, the cabbage had become meltingly soft, translucent from the oils of the pasta sauce.
I was so pleased I took the trouble - and really, it was no trouble - to try something different.