A few weeks back I was figuring out what to do with the broccoli I had gotten in my CSA box… I like it steamed or as part of a salad… but the farmer had told me the leaves are really good and I just was not sure how to cook them. In Puerto Rico, or maybe it’s just me, we are not too fond of cooked leafy greens. It’s just not part of our regular culinary vernacular. But lucky enough, I saw this recipe for stuffed cannelloni from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home. It was just the recipe I needed to use up a lot of broccoli in one single recipe.
The broccoli I get in my CSA box is small… sometimes I questioned if it was really broccolini or even broccoli rabe. So that’s why I used a few bunches of my CSA broccoli, but the recipe calls for ½ a broccoli stalk. I guess you could use it all if you wanted. This CSA broccoli came with lots of leaves, so that’s why I really wanted to use up and not waste.
When I am trying out new recipes, I rarely like to cook them just for myself. Some people call me brave because I am willing to test and try out things I have never cooked before on my friends. So I invited my friends Annie Mariel and Laura to try out this recipe with me… these were the brave and lucky two who got to try this one first. Since then, I have made this recipe a bunch if times… they loved it!!! When my mom tried it she thought the filling had cheese in it… it’s so creamy.
But don’t be intimidated by the ingredient’s list… I looks like there are too many ingredients, but if you think of it in components in the dish, it’s neither that long nor very difficult. You’ll see…
BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER STUFFED SHELLS
½ of a large head of broccoli, chopped into medium sized pieces, including the stem and leaves ½ head of cauliflower, chopped into medium sized pieces too 2 tbs olive oil, divided for the filling and the tomato sauce 6-7 garlic cloves, sliced thinly A pinch of Red pepper flakes – you can add more if you like the heat About 12 -16 brown-rice pasta shells – I use the Tinkyáda brand ½ cup sour cream ½ cup Devon double cream – it’s a Jamie Oliver-inspired recipe, I had to use English cream… ¼ cup parmesan cheese 1/3 cup fried tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes About 1 tbs vinegar – I’ve used white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar Salt and pepper to taste 3 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese Basil leaves – optional
- Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a boil.
- While the water boils, chop the cauliflower and broccoli. Make sure you peel the outer skin of the broccoli stalks and chop the leaves as small as possible. Do not use the stems of the leaves, just the leaves. The stems will never puree well… I tried.
- Add the chopped broccoli and cauliflower to the salted boiling water and cook for about 10 -15 minutes.
- When the broccoli and cauliflower have been for about 5 minutes already in the pot of water, heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a medium sized pan with tall sides. Add the garlic slices and the red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, but not browned or bitter.
- Very carefully pass the broccoli and the cauliflower to the pan where the garlic and pepper flakes are. Drain the vegetables as much as you can before placing in the oil, because the oil WILL SPLATTER. I usually have a splatter guard in hand to make sure the oil does not catch me. Mix the veggies with the garlic and pepper.
- Add some salt and pepper to season and cook covered for about 30 mins, until the vegetables turn into an unrecognizable mass where they no longer retain their vegetable shape. The leaves will not disintegrate…
- While the veggies cook, let’s prepare the sauces…
- For the tomato sauce, mix together the tomato puree, salt, pepper, vinegar and a small drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.
- For the white sauce, mix together the double cream, sour cream, most of the parmesan cheese and season with some salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Also, bring again the large pot of water (with new water please…) to a boil. Add salt and add the pasta shells. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until they have grown in size a bit, are flexible to the touch, but still not fully cooked. Drain the pasta shells and rinse with cold filtered water to stop the cooking process and cool them enough to handle. Set aside.
- After the veggies are cooked, use an immersion blender to turn the veggies into a puree. Make sure all the leaves are pureed and remove any stringy parts that may be around…
- Now we assemble… in your baking dish pour the tomato sauce on the bottom. Using a small spoon, fill each shell with the broccoli/cauliflower puree and place in the baking dish.
- After all the shells are filled and placed on the baking dish, spoon the white sauce over the shells. If you want, now is the time to add some basil leaves, put I have made it without and the dish doesn’t need it… now sprinkle some additional parmesan cheese on top of the white sauce and finish with pieces of fresh mozzarella on top.
- Now we assemble25-30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden brown. As always… when the time is up, just turn the oven off and leave it there for about 10-15 more so it finishes cooking.