Vegetarian Cannelloni

This was an experiment born from watching an episode of masterchef during which some highly talented individuals made a mockery of lasagne. Still it served to awaken my appetite and had me craving a pasta dish of some manner. After finding no lasagne sheets in my pantry, I happened to have dried cannelloni pasta so I turned my attention to using these. I began with no set plan, asked during the chopping stage if I would do a tomato sauce and in that moment decided against it, the pattern continued like this. I found what was available in cupboards and the fridge, tasted and added and thankfully ended up with a really flavourful and punchy dish which had evolved as the recipe developed. It took a little time to compile and put the components together but in the end it was the biggest hit with my family I’ve had in a long while, devoured before it could even cool. Creamy, with a gentle chili warmth and a fragrant aroma added by the thyme. Good simply seasoned veggies, surrounded by rings of pasta and smothered in a velvety white sauce. Divine with crusty white bread designed to be dunked and dragged through the smearing’s of flavours residually left on the plate. Enjoy!!

IngredientsIMAG0259

1 red onion (diced)
3 cloves garlic (diced)
I carrot (small cubes)
2in ring of butternut squash (small cubes)
4 button mushrooms (diced)
¼ red pepper (small cubes)
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme- leaves removed
Chopped mixed nuts
Salt, pepper and chili flakes (spice it up to your preference)

White sauce:
1tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
Milk
50g parmesan (grated)
Salt and pepperIMAG0264 (2)
Fresh thyme leaves

13 cannelloni tubes (enough to fill my baking dish)

Oven at 200˚C

Fry the prepared vegetables in olive oil, beginning with the onion, garlic and then root vegetables (carrot and butternut squash). Cover with a lid to soften as needed. Add the mushrooms, pepper and nuts last. Cook until just tender, and then add seasonings to taste.

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Hold the dry cannelloni vertically; place a piece of greaseproof paper at the bottom end to close the opening. Using a small spoon, fill the tubes with the vegetable mixture. Lay these then into an ovenproof dish in tight rows.

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To make the white sauce, melt the butter and add the flour. Allow the flour to absorb the butter and then cooks these out for a few minutes. Slowly add the milk in stages to create a thick but easily pourable sauce. Season and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Pour this over and between the pasta tubes, finish with a little sprinkle of extra cheese.

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Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until nicely crisp and golden. Serve immediately with a further flourish of grated cheese and accompany with good crusty bread.

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