Fanny tells us that the Italians are experts at making 'delicious, often unusual and frequently distinguished dishes at very little expense' using a variety of pasta. Whether that be 'tiny hats, frilly ribbons, shells, cork-screws, wheels or bows' pasta can make any meal money-saving and memorable. For Fanny, all pasta is essentially the same thing really, just a change of shape and a change of name. 'You pays your money and you takes your choice.' Fanny prefers it served simply with melted butter and grated cheese serving 'double duty' as either a first course or a change from potatoes, but she also gives us some suggestions for main courses all on their own, sometimes making the most of leftovers. I've got some leftover Macsweens Veggie Haggis from last nights Burns Supper that I am sure will be perfect in Fannys' Big Bulging Cannelloni (her description, not mine).
Fanny does give a word of warning about using leftovers, kindly passing on the thoughts of Elizabeth David, who Fanny notes is a 'very fine cookery writer.' Elizabeth warns that Cannelloni often found on menus outside of Italy are merely stuffed pancakes coarsely filled with old scraps of meat. She thinks Cannelloni should be as it is in the homeland - fresh and delicate. I'm not sure Fanny agrees, perhaps a clash between cookery writer and cook, but she adds that cold, cooked leftovers can be used carefully for quality results. I trust Fanny to guide me carefully, so my wonderful Haggis won't go to waste.
Fanny herself uses veal to stuff hers, but I am sure the spicy, earthy Veggie Haggis will work a treat. Fanny suggests either buying Cannelloni (if you happen to live in Soho and are able to study her pictorial guide to be sure that you are buying the correct thing) or make your own. She makes sheets of Lasagne Verde for hers. Just as I am reaching for the (self raising) flour (I should just get over it, it worked!) and butter as in her ravioli I notice she is making a fresh egg pasta here. Oh Fanny, you are a contradiction. She sifts self-raising flour onto a work surface, adds salt, puréed spinach and eggs and chops it all together to a paste with two knives. I'm out of fresh spinach, but luckily I have some Spinach Powder that I bought from the gorgeous Spice Mountain on my last trip to Borough Market that I hope will work well in pasta. It smells so intense and is so green! Only a teaspoon required here.
Once it comes together in a ball, Fanny says to knead it like bread dough for a full ten minutes until its has 'considerable elasticity' so that's what I do! No need to reach for my pasta machine this time either - Fanny rolls her dough with a humble pin until it is thin and firm enough to fold up without fear of splitting or cracking. It's like a lovely sheet of leather by the time I'm finished. I know as a vegetarian I really shouldn't say that, but... For the Cannelloni I cut it into squares and toss it in plenty of boiling salted water for 5 minutes to cook.
Once drained and while still slightly wet and warm, I pop some Veggie Haggis along the centre and roll them up into stuffed cigars. They seal well with the moisture and heat. Clever Fanny. Fanny guides me that a quality pasta dish is all about the sauce. She makes a Spinach Sauce, which again inspires me to reach for my powder. Simply mix in another teaspoon with some cream and grated cheese and pour over the Big Bulging Cannelloni. Fanny should've trademarked that name. Use sautéed spinach if you aren't lucky enough to have the powder. Bake and serve. Simple. It really is a memorable meal, the Haggis is so tasty with the spinach, cheese and cream, and Fannys pasta is good. And so green. Ok, it's a little thicker and puffier than normal, but its good. I think I'll give Fannys suggestion for dessert a miss though... She cooks pasta up in SUGARED instead of salted water and mixes in some jam or jelly once drained and still warm. Apparently it's perfect for 'nursery folks' or adults who do not need to watch their waistlines. Let me know if you try it, won't you?