Friday, May 4, 2012

Leftovers + leftovers = cannelloni

Today I peered into the refrigerator and found leftover potatoes from this and leftover turnip greens from a dish that will eventually be featured in “CookingOff the Cuff” over at The Washington Post. We’re going away for a couple weeks, and if I’d put those things into the freezer neither would have been worth defrosting. Just imagine a container of grainy, watery frozen boiled potatoes. What a thought!

I didn’t want to throw them away, of course, and I got to thinking about variations on bubble and squeak: We could have had something like that with fried eggs. Or I could have combined the vegetables with beaten eggs and made a frittata or a Spanish tortilla, which I could have topped with a spoonful of tomato sauce (a little of which remained in the fridge too).

The tomato sauce, however, made me think of pasta; the problem would be to integrate the potatoes without pushing the resulting dish over the top. Then I recalled that one (though by no means the only) way to make a sensible pasta dish with both potatoes and greens is to roll them up into cannelloni – which could be topped with the tomato sauce and baked.

So that’s what I did: I made an egg and a half’s worth of pasta dough, rolled it out, cut it into squares (well, more or less squares) and parboiled it. I put the turnip greens and potatoes (and some leftover arugula salsa verde) into the food processor and pulsed until everything was broken up. To that mixture I added a handful of grated pecorino, tasted the result and added some more pecorino. The cheese also tightened the mixture, which had inherited a fair bit of liquid from those greens.

I spooned portions of this onto the partially cooked pasta squares/rectangles (which I’d dried on a towel), rolled them up, laid them into an oiled baking pan, topped them with tomato sauce thinned with vegetable stock and baked them, covered with aluminum foil, in a 360 F (180 C) oven for half an hour.

Then I removed the foil, sprinkled the top with grated pecorino and a few slivered sage leaves and baked for another 15 minutes.

This turnip and potato filling made delicious cannelloni, and the few tablespoons of salsa verde in the mixture lent an unusual tart/savory dimension. And we ate them all up: there was not a leftover in sight.