‘You never make lasagne,’ my wife said the other night. ‘Too fiddly, too sloppy. I’ll do canneloni instead,’ I replied. Well, as you can see, this resulting dish is way more fiddly and way more sloppy than a bog standard lasagne – but it was worth all the effort. The mushroom ketchup (a gift from a schoolgate dad who didn’t know how to use it) gives the filling an incredible depth. If you can’t find any, use Worcestershire sauce instead. Or leave it out altgoether. Your call.
8 dried canneloni tubes
400g lean minced beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 onion , finely chopped
3 garlic cloves , sliced
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup or Worcestershire sauce (optional)
250ml double cream
2 balls mozzarella cheese, torn into small chunks
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
1. For the filling, brown the mince by dry-frying it in a non-stick pan on a medium-high heat for approx. 10 mins. Remove and set aside.
2. Add the oil and cook the onion and garlic until soft, approx. 5 mins. Tip in the beef, then the chopped tomatoes, followed by the herbs, pepper, sugar and ketchup or Worcestershire sauce (if using). Add a cup of water and bring to the boil, the reduce to a simmer for 25-30 mins until the tomatoes have broken down and the filling has become thick.
3. To make the white sauce, add a large knob of butter to a saucepan on a low heat. Sprinkle with 2-3 tbsp plain flour, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon.
4. Gradually add enough milk to make a thick, runny sauce. Remove from the heat then add the torn mozzarella and continue to stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce.
4. To assemble the dish, pour 100ml passata into the base of a baking dish.
5. Spoon the beef into the cannelloni tubes using a teaspoon and lay on top of the passata.
6. Pour on the white sauce, then sprinkle with black pepper and Parmesan.
7. Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4 and cook for 40-45 mins until the pasta is tender and the topping is golden.
8. Serve with a basic salad.