How have you been?? I know you both are busy doing things like preparing for a “school final exams” or celebrating Home Alone with Old Monk Rum, Whiskey and Friends!! Didi, you must be working very hard with Rizimon coz according to you, he doesn’t know anything or rather he is totally unprepared for his exams, right? At times like these, I keep wondering why many parents (even ours were no better) think that only their own child is the biggest ‘phankibaaj’ (someone who willingly avoids regular work) in the world and all the other children are all-rounders!! To this you would say, ‘Ruk, tere bachche honey dey (wait till you get your kids)!!” And I would reply, “Abhi toh nahi hai, toh gyan baantne do 😛 (I don’t have any now, so lemme impart some wise lines)!!” hehehheehee! Anyways Didi, jokes apart, how are Rizimon’s exams going on?
Daibi, you were here with me for a month….we talked and ate so much and even had our fights! Together we watched in awe Serena Williams decimating Maria Kirilenko and Milos Raonic giving a tough time to God of Tennis, Roger Federer but loosing at the end! We visited an Australian farm where we spent hours scouring a 100 acres property to find Kangaroos and ate some awesome Australian style farm food!! We learnt about walnut and chestnut trees and watched a 72+ man doing hard labour for 15 hrs in the heat (gosh that heat…I will complain about it in my next letter)!! What an inspiration Phillip was for us! In India, most people mentally retire when they retire from work at 60. They spend their time after that worrying about their children, dreaming of grandchildren and slowly become rusty. Whereas here people seem to be young even at 85! I tell you, its all in the head and heart! Anyways, so what I wanted to say was that I had a great time with you and now that you are gone, I miss you…..I don’t feel like cooking so much either..hence today am writing about a recipe that I cooked for you – the Feta and Spinach Cannelloni in my version of the sauce!
Cannelloni is a cylindrical pasta that is often stuffed with meat or veggies and cheese, baked in a tomato or white (béchamel) sauce gravy to perfection. I decided to give a twist to the sauce and added few veggies and white beans to it. White beans or the cannellini beans are a white variety of the red kidney beans and very popular in Southern Italy. So, here’s how I made it.
Spinach and Feta Cannelloni in White beans and Veggie Sauce
250 gms Frozen Spinach (or 1 kg Fresh Spinach)
250 gms Danish Feta (can be replaced with Hung Curd or Ricotta or Paneer)
1 250gms Box of Cannelloni
1 Can of Tomatoes/4-5 Fresh Tomatoes
1 Can of White or Cannellini Beans
2 sticks of Celery
2 medium sized Onions (finely chopped)
4-5 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
8-10 leaves of Fresh basil
1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup sour cream
1 ltr Vegetable stock or 2 tbsp broth powder
Olive oil to cook and Garnish
Parmesan to Garnish
Salt, Pepper and Chilli Flakes to taste
In a pan, heat a tbsp of oil and throw in 1 tsp of chopped garlic. Fry till golden and add 3 tbsp of chopped onions. When onions are soft, add the spinach and cover to soften/cook. In a pot, heat some oil, throw in the remaining garlic and onions. Chop the carrots and celery sticks into small pieces. Add these to the pot and cook. Pour in the vegetable stock or broth powder, tomatoes, washed & drained beans and cover the lid to cook everything for 10-15 mins on medium heat. By this time all the water from the spinach would have evaporated and it would be a stiff paste like consistency. Take it out in a bowl, mix salt, chilli flakes to taste and add crumbed feta cheese. Mix well. Check the seasoning for the veggie stew and once its cooked, mix in the basil and 1 tbsp of sour cream. One can also add cheese in this to make the sauce more creamy and tasty, but I didn’t (need to watch those beautiful waistlines ;)).
In a separate pot, boil water and cook 2-3 cannelloni at a time for 2 mins. Don’t over cook them or they would tear like some of mine did. I followed the instruction on the cannelloni box which said 4 mins. But they became a lil soft at this stage. Run them under cold water and then fill each of them with 1 tbsp of spinach-feat mix. If you want to fill them more, double the amount of spinach and feta for each box of cannelloni.
To arrange, in a large and deep baking dish, put one thin layer of the sauce and then line up each cannelloni one by one. Sprinkle some grated cheddar and pour the rest of the sauce on top. Cover with remaining cheddar and dollops of sour cream randomly strewn all over. Bake for 20-30 mins at 180 degrees or till the top is golden brown. Serve portions with a dash of olive oil and Parmesan cheese on top. Cannelloni, like lasagna demands high amounts of cheese and cream (don’t know how these Italians eat so much of fat and still stay thin!!). But I have used only about 1/3rd of the total. If someone wants to add more, please feel free 🙂
Daibi, when I cooked this for you, you said you would love to try it again. So here is the recipe, let me know when you make it! 🙂
With love to both of you,