I am a huge fan of broccoli. I never really had it much as a kid except for when my Nan would occasionally serve it up with a roast dinner. It was kind of khaki, mushy and had a blob of cheese whacked on the top as an incentive. It’s a wonder I wasn’t turned off for life!
This recipe puts broccoli and cauliflower (another fave) front and centre of the dinner plate and it is so packed with flavour, I defy even the harshest veggie critics to refuse seconds. It is a recipe from my favourite Jamie Oliver cookbook, Jamie At Home. I love the rustic recipes in this book and turn to it often for seasonal inspiration.
It contains the wackiest way to make a bechamel sauce I’ve ever tried but hey, it works and it works good.
*Please include the anchovies even if you’re not a fan. They melt down to nothing and provide a subtle depth of flavour and don’t taste ‘fishy’ if that bothers you. Seriously.
CAULIFLOWER & BROCCOLI CANNELLONI
500g Broccoli florets and stalks, chopped
500g Cauliflower florets and stalks, chopped
7 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
4-5 good quality anchovies
1 tsp dried chillies (or to taste)
500ml Passata (tomato puree)
Red wine vinegar
500ml Sour cream
200g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
16 Cannelloni tubes
a small bunch of fresh basil leaves
200g of mozzarella
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and drop in the chopped broccoli and cauliflower. Boil for 5-6 minutes, until cooked, then drain in a colander, reserving the cooking water.
Heat a deep frying pan (one that has a lid) and pour in a couple of good slugs of olive oil, then add the garlic. Fry for a few seconds, then add the thyme leaves, anchovies and chillies and continue frying for a few seconds more before adding the broccoli and cauli. Add around 4 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water. Stir everything together, and place the lid on the pan, leaving a slight gap, and cook gently for 15-20 minutes stirring regularly. We’re not after a crunch here, we need the veg slightly overcooked (I know!) to give us the texture we need to fill the tubes later on. Remove the lid during the last 5 minutes to let any excess liquid evaporate, then use a potato masher and crush the veggies. Remove from the heat and season to taste. Let the mixture cool a little.
Get yourself a baking dish or roasting pan. Place the tubes unfilled inside to do a dummy-run and see if they are going to fit snugly, then remove the tubes to one side. Now pour the passata in the tray, pinch some salt over the top and sprinkle with some red vinegar.
Now comes the crazy bechamel sauce. Mix the sour cream with half of the Parmesan cheese, a dash of salt and pepper and a teensy bit of cooking water to thin it down a little. Bob’s your uncle.
Time to fill the tubes. Jamie suggests putting the mixture in a snap-lock bag and snipping the end off and piping it into the tubes. To be honest, I find this too fiddly and after a few experiments have found that stuffing them with a teaspoon actually works better and there is less wastage. For me anyway. It’s a messy job, but fun. Fill the tubes right up and place them in a single layer over the passata. Lay the basil leaves over the cannelloni and evenly spoon over the bechamel sauce.
Season with black pepper and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake for 30-40 minutes or until it is golden and bubbling.
Serve with a simple salad of rocket or mixed leaves dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon and some crusty bread.