Oh, this week! I don’t know where it’s gone, and I have two modes and two modes only these past seven days: frantic disorganization and head-bobbing lethargy, neither of which has proven to be particularly sustainable. My arthritis is flaring up again, this time with insistence, and Nick’s always talking about his diabetes, and I’m always telling him how much fibre is in things and we both feel 800-years-old.
Also, if the weird loop of incongruous music in my head is any indication, my internal DJ is totally high (when did that song from Aladdin get mashed up with The Beach Boys and why has either crossed my mind?), and I know we must have eaten something Monday and Tuesday, but I can’t figure out what it was. And the mountains are dark behind a scattered mist and the temperature has dropped and there are rumours of snow, even after I snapped photos of little white buds in a patch of dirt in front of a building around the corner just this past Saturday when we were running around having adventures in light jackets.
Anyway. I made yogurt cheese because the yogurt I like was on sale. (Given my current state of mind, that’s as good a transition as any.) I told you about yogurt cheese a long while back – it comes from this wonderful blog. At first it was a perfectly good spread for bagels, but now is so much more.
This would be best if you made it with hand-rolled sheets of fresh pasta. Second best is store-bought sheets of fresh pasta, which is what I used. Third would be those hard canneloni tubes you get in a box in the dry pasta aisle, but I have never been able to handle those without crushing them like so many taco shells. It’ll take about five sheets, each one cut in half so that it is roughly 4″x3″ (those Olivieri ones will work just fine).
And don’t just cheat and use ricotta. With the yogurt and the lemon and the salmon together, the filling is bright and flavourful. The night before you plan to make this, empty a large container of yogurt (750mL) into a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Tie up the edges, and hang it over the sink overnight (with a bowl underneath to catch the whey, which is a fantastic addition to soups and bread). Instructions with photos are here. You’ll end up with a little over a cup, maybe a cup and a half, and it should be the consistency of crumbly cream cheese. Refrigerate the stuff until you’re ready to use it.
Smoked salmon canneloni with yogurt cheese
- 5 sheets fresh pasta, 8″x6″ (approximately)
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 leek, 1″ thick, white and light-green part only, chopped
- 1 batch yogurt cheese (about 1 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup smoked salmon, flaked and packed
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup light cream
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. When bubbling, add leek and garlic. Cook for one minute, until garlic is fragrant and leek has brightened in colour. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, mush together yogurt cheese, smoked salmon, and lemon zest and juice. Use a fork – the best mushing is usually done with a fork. Pour buttery garlicky leeks into the bowl, and add parsley, salt, and pepper, stir, and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. When you like what you’re tasting, stir in the egg. Set aside.
Ready pasta for rolling according to package instructions. For store-bought fresh pasta, you may need to soak it for a couple of minutes in cold water. Trim to about 4″x3″.
Bring light cream to just a simmer. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until translucent. Add crushed tomatoes. Once the tomatoes begin to burble and steam, reduce heat to medium and carefully stir in cream, slowly and in a steady stream, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove from heat.
Scoop 1/4 cup filling into the centre of each piece of pasta. Roll into loose cylinders, and place side by side into the pan. Once you have run out of room on the first layer, coat the tops with sauce, and continue laying rolls in a second layer. Coat the whole thing with remaining sauce, then cover with aluminum foil.
Bake covered for 35 minutes, then remove foil and cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with fresh parsley.
I served the pasta over a bed of wilted chard, which turned out to be a nice way to balance the flavours of the dish, the earthiness of the greens tempering the acidity and smoke of the pasta. It would also go nicely with salad.