Sausage cannelloni

Welcome to the unexpected all over again. Is this combination of extraordinary ingredients fusion cuisine at its best? Or just another good way to test the limits with a meal of astonishing quality and magnificent flavours?

To make sausage cannelloni for six hungry diners, you will need:

  • 250g box of cannelloni tubes
  • 500ml mascarpone cheese
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 250g mozzarella cheese
  • 50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • One large onion
  • 10 beef sausages
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 600g baby spinach leaves
  • ½ cup fresh oregano
  • ½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 680g tomato purée 
  • 1 egg
  • 100g white breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil on demand

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Wash the baby spinach leaves and place them in a large saucepan. Bring this up to medium heat and as soon as the leaves wilt, remove, rinse under cold water and drain. Coarsely chop the wilted leaves and reserve for later. Choose a large mixing bowl. Cut the ends off the raw sausages and squeeze the meat into the mixing bowl. Peel and chop two of the garlic cloves, coarsely chop half of the fresh oregano and flat leaf parsley, and half of the freshly ground Parmesan cheese.

Add these ingredients to the sausage meat in the mixing bowl plus the egg, pine nuts, chopped wilted spinach leaves and bread crumbs. After washing your hands, mix these ingredients together. Cover with cling film to confuse the flies and reserve for later. Select a heavy-based large frying pan. Pour in a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, bring this up to medium heat and sweat the thinly sliced onion and two chopped cloves of garlic until the onions are soft.

Add the tomato purée, a can of chopped tomatoes and a cup of water. Sprinkle over the rest of the chopped fresh oregano and stir well. Bring this rich tomato sauce up to a bubbling simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from the heat. Pour the tomato sauce into a large Pyrex oven dish. Using your hands, pack the hollow cannelloni tubes with the sausage meat and spinach mixture. Arrange the stuffed cannelloni tubes neatly in one layer in the oven dish, lying in the tomato sauce.

In a mixing bowl, swiftly combine the mascarpone cheese, the juice of a lemon and the remaining half of the freshly ground Parmesan cheese. Scoop this thick paste evenly over the cannelloni tubes in the dish. Crumble or tear the mozzarella cheese into pieces and scatter them over the surface of the cannelloni. A generous dose of freshly ground black pepper completes the precooking arrangements.

Finally, shove the well-loaded dish into the middle of the preheated oven and let it bubble away for 30 minutes or so. Serve this with a really good red wine. Friends brought a bottle of Italian Cabernet the night I made this. It had an industrial bouquet rather like diesel, or maybe lamp oil or perhaps Jet A1. We poured it down the drain and opened two bottles of Raka Figurehead 2009 instead, promising never to deviate from the best Cape wines ever again.

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.