A year ago Ruth at Once Upon A Feast inaugurated a weekly food event called Presto Pasta Nights, and it's been a rousing success. Each Friday she cobbles together a nifty re-cap of delicious pasta recipes from bloggers around the world. So, if you want some ideas for a great pasta meal, it's the place to visit. To celebrate the first anniversary, I decided to do something with sweet peas. Spring is near and I find myself thinking about the fresh peas that will be available at the farmers market. Until then, I have to use frozen peas. I've wanted to make Mario Batali's recipe for ravioli stuffed with sweet pea and mint filling, with tomato lamb sauce. His recipe has a charming name, called Love Letters. But, I decided to simplify the recipe a bit, and use it in cannelloni. I also left the lamb out of the sauce, so this is a good recipe for vegetarians. But, the lamb can be added if you like, and would taste wonderful. This is a dish for people who like mint, no doubt about it. The peas and mint produce a slightly sweet filling, so it's important to use a tangy sauce on the cannelloni. The tomato sauce, with or without the lamb, is perfect for that.
The cannelloni can be rolled in advance to baking and stored in the fridge. You can also use this filling for ravioli or large shells. The filling was quite rich, and I might use less of it in each cannelloni the next time.
Ready for the oven.
Happy anniversary Ruth! Here's to the next year!
Sweet Pea And Mint Cannelloni
Makes about 10 cannelloni
(Adapted from Mario Batali)
1 pound shelled frozen sweet peas,
2 cups mint leaves, 16 leaves reserved for garnish
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1/2 - 3/4 cup ricotta
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 ounces of fresh pasta sheets, about 4 inches by 6 inches, or use dry cannelloni shells
1 recipe Basic Tomato Sauce
1 pound ground lamb or spicy sliced lamb sausage (optional) Note, you could use porchini mushrooms instead of lamb, if you like
Parmesan cheese, for grating
Defrost the peas, ( I sprayed cold water over them in a colander and tossed them for a few minutes. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the peas, mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta and egg. Season with salt and pepper and pulse to form a smooth paste.
Bring water to boil and cook the pasta sheets or cannelloni shells until done to package directions. Drain and begin rolling the cannelloni. Place a sheet of the pasta (or a shell) on a plate, long side facing you, and put about 1/4 cup of the pea filling in the center and and roll the pasta up and place it seam side down on a baking dish, that has some of the tomato sauce smeared on the bottom.
Spread the sauce on the cannelloni entirely or just down the middle. Sprinkle Parmesan on top and cover with foil. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Then serve with any remaining sauce and Parmesan.
Making the sauce
2 28 ounce cans of tomatoes, drained
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground lamb or spicy lamb sausage (optional)
Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions, carrots, thyme, and garlic. Cook until softened, then add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium. If using the lamb, add it to the sauce, crumbled, and cook until the sauce is as thick as cooked oatmeal. When the sauce is done, pulse it in a food processor until it's smoother.
In a medium saucepan, bring the tomato sauce to a boil. Add the sausage, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour, skimming off the fat as it is rendered from the meat. Remove the sauce from the heat, cool briefly, and pulse it in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a 12-inch skillet and keep warm.