Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A last supper

That's it. The bags are packed, my guide book well thumbed, and I've polished my miserly knowledge of the French language to as near as sparkling as it will ever get. I think I'm ready to go.

I fly to Marrakesh tomorrow, and in anticipation of a spiced-fuelled week I'm feeling nostalgic for some good old-fashioned home cooking before I go. This cannelloni straddles the divide between the lightness of summer eating and comforting winter stodge, combining the sun drenched flavours of courgette and lemon with the more homely overtones of a rich tomato sauce and cheddary golden top.

Summer and winter courgette cannelloni
Feeds 3-4 for dinner

2 medium courgettes, finely diced
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 cans plum tomatoes
2 sweet red peppers, roasted (or use the pre-made version that come in a jar)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 sprigs of mint, finely chopped
the grated rind of 2 lemons
250g ricotta
25g grated parmesan
50g grated cheddar
3 sheets fresh lasagne pasta, or dried cannelloni tubes
olive oil

1) First make the tomato sauce by gently frying half the onion until translucent in a tablespoon of olive oil, then add one of the cloves of chopped garlic. Fry for another few minutes over a low heat, then pour in the tomatoes and their juices and the sweet peppers, and allow to simmer for ten minutes. Blend until smooth with a stick hand blender, then season to taste.

2) Now the filling - fry the remaining onion with the courgettes for ten minutes or until slightly browned and soft, then add the remaining garlic and lemon zest and fry for a further five minutes. Meanwhile, stir the parmesan and mint into the ricotta, then add the courgette mixture after allowing it to cool a little.

3) Spoon a little of the tomato sauce into the base of a deep 20 x 25cm dish, then cut the lasagne sheets into rectangles roughly 10 x 15cm. Roll large spoonfuls of the mixture up inside, and place on top of the tomato sauce. When you have used all the filling (this should fill about 10-12 rolls) pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top. There may be a little left over which you can pop in the freezer for another day. Top with the grated cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes at 375f/190c/gas mark 5, or until the cheese is golden.

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