Red wine and pizza has to be one of my favourite Friday night naughty suppers; I just adore the pairing of melted cheese, piping hot tomato sauce and crimson vino. A Friday night, spent at home making pizza and drinking sangiovese with my husband is pure bliss. Last night, however I opted to forgo our usual pizza routine and decided on making instead a baked broccoli and cauliflower cannelloni. It had all of my beloved pizza elements, molten, crispy almost charred melted cheese and bubbling hot tomato passata spiked with basil and garlic so I knew my cannelloni bake would marry perfectly with my wine and also be utterly delicious.
One of the reasons that this dish had me so interested in the first place is its use of well disguised vegetables. This dish has a major hit of broccoli and cauliflower! I never think of vegetables as being the star of a dish but watching an episode of ‘Jamie at Home’, I was completely enthralled seeing Jamie Oliver effortlessly mosey around his kitchen to whip up the most incredible looking vegetarian dish that didn’t look at all like a typical vegetarian dish. I thought I must bake this also! And I am very pleased that I did.
The cannelloni tubes are stuffed with the most incredible mixture of broccoli and cauliflower, which surprisingly have so much flavour! This, I am sure has to do with being sautéed in olive oil along with garlic, basil and anchovies. The stuffed tubes of cannelloni rest on a bright red bed of tomato passata and just like Jamie I also spiced my passata up with a dash of red wine vinegar and a good tablespoon of sugar. Another great tip that Jamie offered up was his substitute for the usual pain staking béchamel sauce, he instead used a mixture of crème fraiche and parmesan cheese which was pure genius! I found the finished product to be much lighter with an incredible amount of flavour and the mixture of crème fraiche and melted cheese was just gorgeous with my vino.
My favourite (and I am sure it will be yours too) part of this baked cannelloni dish was the crispy, melted layer of gorgeous cheese! The almost charred pieces were the best. I had to summon all of my inner discipline not to peel off the entire layer of cheese and just have that for dinner! Enjoy! K x
Baked Cauliflower and Broccoli Cannelloni
Adapted from Jamie Oliver ‘At Home With Jamie’
1 Head of broccoli, washed, florets and stalks chopped
1/2 a head of white cauliflower, washed, florets and stalks chopped
7 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 small bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked
3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped, oil reserved
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups good-quality tomato passata
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 cups creme fraiche
½ cup Parmesan, finely grated
16 cannelloni tubes
1 small bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
1 large mozzarella ball
Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and drop in the chopped broccoli and cauliflower. Boil for 5 to 6 minutes, until cooked, drain reserving the cooking water.
Heat a wide saucepan, pour in olive oil and add the garlic. Fry for a few seconds, then add 8 basil leaves, anchovies and anchovy oil. Add the cooked broccoli and cauliflower with around 4 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water. Stir everything together, put a lid on the pan leaving a little gap, and cook slowly for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove the lid for the last 5 minutes to let the moisture evaporate, then use a potato masher to crush the vegetables. Take the saucepan off the heat, taste the vegetables and season carefully with salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet to cool.
Meanwhile open the bottle of tomato passata, add the vinegar and sugar, replace lid and shake to combine. Pour the tomato sauce into a baking dish that will fit the cannollini shells in snugly.
In a small bowl mix the creme fraiche with half the Parmesan, a sprinkling of salt and pepper and a little of the reserved cooking water to thin it down.
Use a teaspoon to push the broccoli mixture into the cannelloni tubes and place them in a single layer on top of the tomato sauce. Lay the basil leaves over the cannelloni and spoon the white sauce evenly over the top. Season with black pepper, sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan and tear over the mozzarella. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden and bubbling on top. Serve the cannelloni with a big glass of red wine and some good crusty bread.