Wednesday, 30 November 2016

"Cheat" baked cannelloni in tomato sauce

Years ago Delia hosted a TV show How to cheat at cooking, which was followed by the cookbook with the recipes featured in the show. What she had to say was quite liberating for many foodies, as she suggested re-thinking a way of shopping, with the emphasis on the storecupboard ingredients and re-stocking the freezer.
I didn't agree with all of her suggestions. For example, I think pre-grated cheese is absolutely rank, and is not worth the money. How long does it actually take to grate cheese? I'm not overly keen on ready-made fruit salads either. But ready-made pasta makes total sense to me.
Even in Italy many don't have time or energy to stay in the kitchen for hours, making their own pasta. They just go to the local little pasta shops and buy pasta, handmade by someone else who does it for living. Or buy ready-made pasta in supermarkets.
A quick tomato sauce could be prepared very easily, you just need a decent tomato product like tinned tomatoes or passata.
Cirio tomato products are among my kitchen staples, always handy to have for a quick pasta or soup.

I often cook from scratch, but I make exceptions for pasta. There is no way I can make pasta myself. OK, I have given it a go when I had a masterclass in Southern Italian cooking in Sartoria last September. It was great fun. But time-consuming it is, and time is a precious commodity.
For midweek meals I sometimes go for a "cheat" version like these baked cannelloni, prepared with a pack of ready-made cannelloni, tomato passata and a pack of vegetables in oil. It did taste delicious nevertheless.

1 pack of ready-made cannelloni
1 pack of Cirio passata
1 pack of Waitrose sunshine vegetables in basil oil (mix of semi-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives, artichokes, peppers - 130g)
2tbsp olive oil
a handful of fresh basil leaves
Grana Padano, to grate

I used Waitrose spinach & ricotta cannelloni, but any brand of cannelloni would do. There are 6 cannelloni in a pack.
First cook the sauce by simmering passata with added olive oil, a pinch of sugar and seasoned with salt for about 5 minutes. Chop fresh basil and add to the sauce. Mix in a pack of vegetables in oil
Oil 3 ceramic dishes, place two cannelloni in each, and scoop the sauce over. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes.
Serve hot, with some Grana Padano cheese grated over the cannelloni.

What are you midweek "cheat" meals?

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