A trip to the local fruit shop today really spelt out the season.
The mandarins and oranges seem to be in less plentiful supply and cheaper punnets of strawberries and blueberries are popping up each time i visit.
Along with that the front of the shop was jammed full of colourful buckets, each overflowing with daffodils, sweetpeas and jonquils. The heavy aroma of spring owned that corner of the shop….so that can mean only one thing… spring is nearly here. HOORAY!! (insert happy dance here)
A stroll down past the herbs also put a smile on my face as big fat bunches or basil also told me a change of season was here. Not because they have not been around all winter….but because they are finally cheap! And with the soil in our yard not sprouting any summer herbs yet, i was definitely buying a bunch today and i knew exactly what i was going to use them in.
Tonight i was going to try to make cannelloni.
Miss 20 months (yes, the time has come, i cannot keep calling her Miss 18 months anymore) has really fallen in love with lasagne. Unfortunately, but typically as these things go, Master 5 years HATES lasagne. So i though i would try a compromise. Chicken and Pumpkin Cannelloni.
There is very little ‘standing in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove’ cooking in this dish.
Firstly, i bought a barbecued chicken from the supermarket and shredded the breast finely and put it aside to cool.
Then i diced half a butternut pumpkin into 2cm cubes. I coated this in a little olive oil, 1 clove of crushed garlic and plenty of seasoning (salt and pepper)
Place this in a 170 deg celsius oven and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and mashable with a fork.
Mash the pumpkin slightly with a fork. You still want a little texture to the final dish so do not go overboard with the mashing.
In a large bowl i then added the cooled chicken, smashed baked pumpkin, ricotta cheese and about 1 – 2 tablespoon of chopped basil.
I gently combined this before adding a good handful of parmesan cheese.
Grab yourself a large ovenproof dish and pour half a bottle of passata sauce along the bottom of the dish. This serves as a wet tomato bed for the cannelloni to sit on.
Now comes the only fiddly part of the dish – Stuffing the filling into the cannelloni tubes.
You just need to use a small teaspoon to do this and have patience.
It did not take too long. It took me 15 minutes to stuff all the cannelloni tubes. But you cannot force the filling in roughly. Just go slow and add a little at a time.
I have seen a trick that Jaime Oliver uses whereby he uses the fresh lasagne sheets you get in the fridge section at the supermarket and he just places the filling on a lasagne sheet and then rolls it up. So if stuffing solid tubes does not appeal to you – that is your other option.
As each tube is filled, place it on the bed of tomato passata until you have a bed full of little cannelloni babies.
Cover the tubes with the rest of the passata sauce and top with plenty of grated cheese. I used one of the pre packaged ‘melting’ cheese mixes which was a mix of colby, parmesan and mozzarella.
Preheat the oven to 200 degree celsius and bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until it is golden an bubbling on top.
We had ours with a simple salad.
‘Sigh’… not so great.
Master 5 years continued along the same path as lasagne. HATED it.
Miss 20 months was slow to get started but once she ate some she seemed to enjoy it. I finely chopped hers up as this is how she likes lasagne but she seemed to want to use a fork, so once we gave her a fork she was much happier. Despite the appearance of the bowl in the picture, she did eat plenty.
The big souls loved it.
How about your household? Would love to hear if anyone has success with it.
1 barbecued chicken, breast removed and shredded finely
1/2 butternut pumpkin, cubed
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tbs olive oil
250g fresh ricotta cheese
2 tbs chopped basil plus extra leaves to garnish
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
700ml bottle passata sauce
Grated cheese for topping
Preheat oven to 170 degree celsius. Coat cubed pumpkin in olive oil and crushed garlic. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender and mashable with a fork.
Meanwhile, finely shred chicken meat with fingers and set aside to cool.
Once the pumpkin is cooked, roughly mash with a fork. Do not over mash. You want some texture to still remain in the pumpkin mix. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, shredded chicken, ricotta cheese and chopped basil. Mix together gently and the add and mix in parmesan cheese.
Cover the base of a large oven proof dish with half of the passata sauce
Fill the cannelloni tubes with the chicken and pumpkin filling. Place filled tube onto the passata sauce. Repeat until desired amount in dish.
Cover with the remaining passata sauce and cover generously with grated cheese.
Place into a moderately hot over (around 200 degree celsius) for 30 – 40 minutes or until bubbling and golden on top.
Scatter basil leaves over the top before serving.