Regular visitors to this page know about my love for food shows. This came about because I watched Grandma’s Boy on Fox Life. Irish chef Donal Skehan travels to Italy and gets into the kitchen of Italian nonnas. What results is THE most delicious food on the table. How can I not be tempted to cook? It helps that my older son is home now so it’s a dish of cannelloni with whatever ingredients I had at that point of time in my kitchen. Cannelloni is cylindrical pasta and means ‘large reeds’ in Italian.
Sometimes it’s good to take time to prepare, source out the ingredients and proceed. But mostly impulse takes over and I hurry to the kitchen because the big itch will not go if I do not cook!! I had some keema in the freezer but no cheese I could grate and make the dish look nicer. So I made do with Go cheese slices. The sweet basil that I had bought at the horticultural show now sports more leaves so I could a few too. I had made pasta from scratch but that was a long time ago. Anyway I wanted to give it a go before my enthusiasm waned away and another dish held me captiv(e)ated!!

The different stages

At first I got the filling ready. As it cooled I made the dough and the sauce.
The filling:
250g minced mutton
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
2 large onions
A quarter tsp ground pepper
A quarter tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
3 tbs olive oil
6 slices of cheese
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and the onions. Fry for a few minutes then add the minced meat. Cook for a while and then add the seasonings. Cook till the meat is done. Remove and set aside. Tear the cheese into bits and add to the meat. Give it a stir so that the cheese partly melts into the cooked meat.
The pasta : I forgot to measure the flour. It was all “andaz” here.:)
(About) 2 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
A sprinkling of water
Take a bowl with the flour in it. Make a well in the centre and break the egg. Mix till the dough comes together adding the required amount of water. Set aside as you prepare the sauce.

The sauce is poured over and then the cheese slices go in

The sauce:
3 large tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
A quarter tsp ground pepper
Salt to taste
Sugar for the balance as the tomatoes are acidic 
Chilli powder for the colour (optional)
Olive oil
Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes.
Remove and plunge in cold water. Peel off the skin, remove the ‘eyes’ and the other ends. Chop fine.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and the onions. Cook for a few minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and the seasonings. Cook for about 12 minutes. If you don’t want chunky pieces you can put the sauce in a blender and blitz.
I also added about 2 tbs of ready-made tomato sauce from a bottle. This actually enhances the taste.

Heat several cups of water in a large pan for boiling the pasta. Add some salt to it.
Roll out the pasta dough into circles. Cut them into the size of the pasta you have in mind.
Boil till done (the way you usually like your pasta).
Remove and drain in a colander. Later, place them on clean kitchen towels so that they dry up better.
Take one ‘sheet’, on a flat surface. Place the cooked meat on one edge and roll up.
Transfer to a greased baking dish. Repeat with the other sheets until all the filling is used up. In all I had 10 tubes (and a bit of the dough was left over).
Pour the sauce over the pasta. Tear off some more cheese slices and scatter over the sauce.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for about 25-30 minutes.
Remove. Decorate with a few bruised and torn basil leaves.

This has to be my favourite pasta! The filling, the sauce, the cheese, all make a wonderful combination. This was made hurriedly and I even forgot to measure some of the ingredients. Even the recipe for the sauce is basic. A rough and ready kind of dish but so satisfying and so filling!

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