A few years ago, I attempted- and failed spectacularly- to become a vegetarian. Before the spectacular failure (think steak, steak and some more steak), this experiment forced The Boy and I to stop thinking that meat + vegetables (+sauce for Kat) = our tea, and start thinking all things vegetable. Vegetarian food has always had a bit of a bad rap, and to some extent it's deserved. Even restaurants get lazy with it. The amount of times my choice was a mushroom burger or a squash risotto probably did a lot to push me back to the dark side (and usually there wasn't a choice, it was either the burger on the menu or the risotto). But, it's a shame because there is so much you can do with the humble vegetable (to my mind, it's always: "add cheese", but this goes for meat as well half of the time.)
This recipe (heavy on the cheese) is one of the earliest veggie dishes The Boy cooked and remains something of a staple in our home. It's quintessential comfort food: hot, soft and cheesy. Perfect for cold and frugal January evenings. This was dinner on Sunday evening. We ate it hot out of the oven with Virgin Marys in front of the telly. Comfort food is also perfect TV food. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
This makes enough for two big appetites!
You will need:
For the tomato sauce:
One onion and garlic clove, finely chopped
One tin of chopped tomatoes
A glass of red or white wine
For the filling:
One leek, sliced
One garlic clove, finely chopped
One courgette, sliced
A big handful of spinach
Six lasagne sheets
75g goats cheese
A handful of dill
Salt and pepper
To top the cannelloni:
A handful of breadcrumbs
Parmesan to taste
For the tomato sauce:
Fry the onion and a clove of garlic together in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the wine and allow the alcohol to fry off before adding the tin of tomatoes. Leave to cook for about one hour.
For the filling of the cannelloni:
Fry the leeks and the garlic over a medium heat in a frying pan. Add the courgettes and cook until softened. In a separate pan, wilt the spinach and squeeze the water out of it. Add this to the frying pan along with the goats cheese and dill, and add enough cream to cover the vegetables and make a thick sauce. Remove the saucepan from the heat and season with salt and pepper
To make the cannelloni:
Add the lasagne sheets to boiling water. We did this in two deep roasting tins. Do not allow them to overlap, otherwise they will stick together. Leave them to soften for about five minutes.
Add about half of the tomato sauce to the bottom of the dish or dishes you will bake your cannelloni in.
Remove one of the lasagne sheets and use a tablespoon to add the mixture, slightly to one side of the sheet and roll gently. Place it on the top of the tomato sauce. Repeat until you have used all of your lasagna sheets. Top with the any remaining filling mixture and top with the remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parmesan or other hard cheese.
Cook in the oven at 180 degrees or gas mark 4, for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.