Surprisingly easy and surprisingly gawjus recipe this evening, cooked as a main for Pudding Club as our friends wanted to try out their new tarte tatin pan. Dead quick too – less than an hour to put together and cook (although I spread the time out by making it before driving to Long Eaton to cook it.)
In the supermarket, on the conveyor belt, as I was unpacking, a woman behind me with a thick Italian attic quizzed me about the cannelloni pasta, which is tubes. Where did you find those? I looked everywhere! I explained it was right next to the lasagne sheet pasta and she dashed off to find it before her shopping rolled to the front. She too had large quantities of spinach and ricotta in her basket.
First prepare to make the cheese sauce: simmer a pint of milk (UHT is fine) with an onion, bay leaf and cloves.
Two bags of spinach and one tub of ricotta make the filling for the pasta tubes: cook the spinach with a few tablespoons of boiling water then drain. Grate in some fresh nutmeg and beat in the ricotta cheese.
Pipe the mix into the cannelloni. The two bags of spinach and the tub filled around 14 pasta tubs.
Next cover them with a tomatoey sauce. I used Lloyd Grossman’s tomato and chargrilled vegetables sauce out of a jar – and it took two jars to do the job. For some reason, I would never buy a cheese sauce but I am more than happy to buy tomato sauces. My homemade tomato pasta sauce is always a little disappointing, so when I am making pizza or pasta, I’m happy to buy in the tomato sauce element.
The cheese sauce is a buttery roux – made as per my lasagne recipe. Cover the tomato sauce with a thin layer of cheese sauce and heat the whole thing for 20 mins at 150 deg C. Then cover with a mix of breadcrumbs, parmesan and something interesting and crunchy. I went for pine nuts, sesame and linseeds in the end after about 10 mins scrabbling around the kitchen looking for the half packet of chopped walnuts that I know is in there somewhere. Whack under the grill to blacken the gratin. Serve. Eat. Nom.