Chicken and herb cannelloni

Chicken and herb cannelloni serve with salad

Chicken and herb cannelloni serve with salad

I don’t quite know why, but I’ve been wanting to make this cannelloni for a week or so. Perhaps the idea was bought on seeing all the lovely summer herbs around, because they are the key to this lovely fresh, light cannelloni. Sometimes I crumble a little feta into the mix, try that if it tickles your fancy. Although the recipe is a bit long, they’re actually pretty simple to make, especially if you mix the filling in a bag and then pipe it straight into the pasta tubes. This makes the whole thing a lot easier; less fiddly and not as messy. A few cannelloni also make a great work lunch that you just zap in the microwave for a few minutes during the week.

Makes about 24 cannelloni

Cannelloni

2 rashers bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
500 grams chicken mince
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 cups spinach leaves
1 grinding pepper
200 grams (approx) cannelloni
grated cheese (I used parmesan)

White sauce

2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 pinches nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1 grinding pepper
1 bay leaf
2 cups cold milk

Tomato sauce

2 cups passata
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup white wine

To prepare the cannelloni filling, place a non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat. Cook the bacon till crisp and golden. Depending on the bacon you use, you may need to add a little oil for this. Turn the heat down and add the onion and garlic, cooking till translucent. Allow to mixture to cool.

Finely chop the mint, basil and spinach. Place the greens in a clean plastic bag with the mince and bacon mixture. Combine thoroughly. (My chicken mince came in a bag, so I just used that.) Refrigerate till you are ready to assemble the cannelloni. (I prepared my filling a day in advance to save myself some effort later on.)

To make the tomato sauce, combine all ingredients and set aside till you are ready to assemble.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the cornflour and mix to combine, so there are no lumps. Add the salt, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaf then pour in the cold milk, whisking thoroughly. Continue whisking until the mixture bubbles and begins to thicken. Turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaf when you are ready to assemble.

Chicken and herb cannelloni

Chicken and herb cannelloni

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

To assemble, spread the tomato sauce across the bottom of an appropriately sized baking dish. Cut the corner off the plastic bag containing your cannelloni filling and gently pipe the mixture into the cannelloni and arrange them close together on top of the tomato sauce. Cover the cannelloni with white sauce, then with grated cheese. Bake for about an hour, or till the mince is cooked through and the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.

Serve with a leafy salad dressed with white wine vinegar and olive oil.

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