25 November 2007

Honeycomb Canneloni

Alveolare di Canneloni al Forno
Honeycomb Canneloni Pasta (with title)
There was an article by Mark Bittman in the New York times wherein he argues that it doesn't make sense to barely moisten pasta with a scant amount of sauce. He does make a lot of sense, but I am usually (turncoat!) a member of the pasta contingent, not at all saucy. I don't like being overwhelmed by flavors, and which is how I probably ate more than my fair share of carbohydrates, which is how I got to where I am now, sadly. Well, if you're on team Bittman, I have the perfect pasta dish for you. It's once again (again) from Jamie Oliver's book Cook With Jamie, and this recipe just popped out at me while I was browsing in the store that I had to have the book. It has a beautiful recipe for this mushroom ragù that I will now share with you, with some modifications.
Honeycomb Canneloni
I think we are not an overeating lot at my house. This dish can easily serve 12 or more people here. I dare you to come up with a more gimmicky presentation for canneloni. Granted, it could stand to be more beautiful, but I ran out of sauce to fill it all the way to the top. Why? I forgot to put the carrots in. The result was a very strongly flavored sauce. D'oh. In any case, it looks smashing served in its own pot (a flimsy all-aluminum pot that I bought for P150). Highly recommended. I also made this kind of complex recipe over the span of a few days so I don't overwhelm myself. The freezer saves the day again! (Recipe follows)Honeycomb Canneloni, half-done
Jamie Oliver's Honeycomb Canneloni

Special equipment: ovenproof dish/ casserole 5 inches deep. I used a pan that was 8" in diameter.

  • 400g fresh spinach, washed very well and stems discarded

  • nutmeg for grating

  • olive oil

Roughly chop the spinach into manageable pieces (1-2" or so). In a saucepan, heat a small quantity of olive oil and add the spinach, tossing a few times and leave to wilt. Season with salt, pepper, and a grating of nutmeg. At this point you can leave it to cool, then pack it in a ziplock bag and freeze for a week if desired.
  • a small handful of dried porcini (I used Chinese white pearl mushrooms with good results)

  • 1/4 cup (60mL) olive oil

  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced finely

  • 4 ribs celery, trimmed and diced finely

  • 1 large red onion, peeled and diced finely

  • 1 leek, trimmed and outer leaves discarded, diced finely

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced finely

  • 5 medium Portobello mushrooms, chopped

  • 70 oz (4 lbs 6 oz or 2kg) good-quality canned plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • a large bunch fresh basil, leaves picked and stems finely chopped

In a small bowl, add the dried porcini and enough boiling water to cover and leave to soak for 5 minutes. In a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, carrots, celery, onion, and leek. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the garlic and Portobello mushrooms. Drain the porcini, reserving the liquor, and add the porcini to the pan. Cook for 5 more minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Add the porcini liquor and 1 cup (250mL) water and allow to reduce for about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chopped basil stalks. Season with salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Simmer for up to 45 minutes or until you have a very thick ragù. Tear in the basil leaves and give it a stir. At this point you can cool the sauce to room temperature and freeze for up to a week; however, upon defrosting you'll have to heat it up until it is actually hot (not just liquid but cold).
  • 1 cup (250g) double cream or heavy cream

  • 1 cup (250g) sour cream

  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped

  • a handful (about 60g) of Parmesan cheese

Stir everything together, then season with salt and pepper as desired. I just added pepper as the anchovies were sufficiently salty.
  • 18 oz (500g) canneloni tubes

  • Parmesan cheese, for grating

  • olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). In your ovenproof pan, add in 1/2 of the white sauce and sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Top with the spinach evenly. Ladle in about half of the mushroom ragù and stand the canneloni tubes in it. Press down on the tubes until the bottom reaches the spinach. Spoon the rest of the ragù over the tubes and smooth it over the holes. Pour over the rest of the white sauce, sprinkle with more grated Parmesan, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes until golden and bubbling.

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