Sunday, 18 May 2014

Christmas honeycomb cannelloni


  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 small dried red chilli, crumbled
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 large handful black olives, stoned and finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh rosemary
  • 3x400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2x410 g tinned chickpeas, drained
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 g fresh spinach, washed
  • 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
  • 300 ml single cream
  • 400 ml crème fraîche
  • 75 g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 lemon
  • 500 g cannelloni tubes
  • 75 g feta cheese
You'll need an ovenproof casserole or saucepan that's about 23cm in diameter and 12.5cm deep.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Heat a large saucepan over a low to medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Tip in the garlic, onion, carrot and celery and fry gently until soft and just beginning to brown. Now add the chilli, cinnamon stick and half of the olives and cook for a few more minutes.

Pick the tips off of the rosemary sprigs and keep 12 or so back, then pick and finely chop the rest of the leaves. Add them to the pan with the tomatoes, chickpeas and a splash of water. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the mixture has reduced slightly and is tasting fantastic. Taste, and season as necessary. Pick out and reserve the cinnamon stick.

While that's cooking, heat another large pan and add a splash of oil and the spinach, and cook until wilted. Drain in a colander, pressing lightly with the tongs to get rid of any excess moisture, and once it's cool enough to handle, roughly chop. Season, grate over a little nutmeg and pop to one side.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the cream, crème fraîche and most of the Parmesan. Season with a good grating of nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper then finely grate in the zest of your lemon. Squeeze in a little juice, give it a quick mix and pop to one side.

Rub the inside of your casserole pan with olive oil then spoon in half of the tomatoey stew. Stand the cannelloni tubes upright in the mix, making sure they're nice and snug. Press them down with the palm of your hands until they touch the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle over half of the spinach and crumble over half of the feta, then spoon half of the creamy sauce on top. Give the pan a bit of a shake so everything settles in and around the tubes, then spoon in the rest of the tomatoey stew. Scatter over the remaining spinach and feta, then sprinkle with the rest of the olives. Cover the lot with the remaining creamy sauce and push the cinnamon stick down the side to flavour the pasta.

Poke the reserved rosemary tops down into the tops of the cannelloni tubes so they stand upright then scatter with the remaining Parmesan. Add more grated nutmeg, then bake in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes until cooked through, browned and bubbling.


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