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Rachel Khoo's Mediterranean vegetable cannelloni

The French Mediterranean is the inspiration for this dish packed with all those quintessential flavours of the sunny south. With its medley of Mediterranean vegetables and salty olive paste to add extra umph, this is an all around veg-packed crowd-pleaser for all the family.

  • Preparation Time25 mins
  • Cooking Time25 mins
  • Serves4
  • DifficultyMedium

For the cherry tomato sauce

500g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of salt

For the filling

2 courgettes
8 large sheets of lasagne (16cm x 22cm)
8 tsp black olive tapenade or paste
200g grilled red peppers (from a jar), drained and roughly chopped
200g cooked artichokes, roughly chopped
freshly ground pepper
200g crème fraîche
1 small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Finely grated zest and juice of 1⁄2 a lemon
Green salad, to serve

Equipment

Speed peeler
Small saucepan
Juicer (if wanted)
Zester
Spoon
Knife
Chopping board
Baking dish

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 180°c. Pop the tomatoes, oil and salt in a small saucepan. Cover with the lid and cook over a medium heat for 8 minutes or until the tomatoes have burst and become mushy. Meanwhile, top and tail the courgettes and, using a speed peeler, make long ribbons. Stop when you get to the spongy seed core, and discard. 

With the lasagne sheets laid portrait, spread the tapenade thinly over them. Lay a few of the courgette ribbons down the length of the sheets to just cover each sheet in a thin layer. Mix together the peppers and artichokes and spoon 3 tablespoons of the mixture down the centre of each of the sheets, then roll up tightly from the long side to make a roll, trapping the filling in the centre. Place in a baking dish. Repeat with the other sheets of lasagne. 

Pour the tomatoes over the lasagne rolls. Stir some pepper into the crème fraîche until smooth and dollop randomly over the top. Cook for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. 

Chop the flat-leaf parsley finely with the lemon zest. Scatter over the cooked pasta and squeeze over the lemon juice just before serving. Serve with a green salad. 

Tips 

  1. The cherry tomatoes can be substituted for tinned cherry tomatoes, but if you have an abundance of fresh ones this is a great way to use them up. 
  2. I use creme fraiche here to add a little creaminess without all the effort of making a homemade bechamel sauce, which you would traditionally make for a pasta bake. Not only is the creme fraiche naturally thick and a big time saver here, i like the lightness it adds to this summery bake.
  3. Don’t be tempted to substitute the creme fraiche for a lower fat version - because of its high fat content (48%) it can be boiled and adding to sauces without splitting or going lumpy. 
  4. If your fresh lasagne sheets are a little dry, pop them in a bowl of boiling water for 30 seconds or so. When they are supple, drain them and pat dry with kitchen towel or a clean tea towel. 
  5. Resting out of the oven will make it far easier for portioning up, it also gives the sauce a little time to firm up. 
  6. You can substitute the fresh pasta for dry, simply cook until just al dente in a pan of salted water.
  7. Don’t throw away the core of the courgette, grate it up and fry it over a low heat to stir through pasta or spread over toast with some crumbled feta. 
  8. Here I use jarred roasted peppers, but by all means feel free to substitute these for fresh ones, roasted and de-skinned, but these are really handy to have in your store cupboard and an easy shortcut that won’t compromise the flavour.
  9. To skin your peppers if using fresh ones, grill whole under a hot grill, turning every few minutes until they blacken on the outside. Transfer with tongs to a plastic bag and tie a knot in it. Leave to cool and the steam created in the bag will loosen the skins away from the fresh. Then they should just slip off.