The sunlight floods in, combining with the heat of the stove to trick my mind and body into believing it’s summer. There’s no memory behind this recipe. It’s brand new. But it represents those moments of pure contentment, when I find myself busy at a fulfilling task, looking forward to success, hopeful that I’ll achieve something beautiful. I take another shell and fill it. Then another. I think of Italy, nostalgic for a heritage that isn’t mine. I pour a glass of wine, and reach for another shell.
My aunt challenged me to come up with ideas for kohlrabi other than the standard stir fry. This is my second recipe; the first was my Twisted Apple Salad, where I used it raw, along with roasted beets and Granny Smith apples. That salad was the first time I had tasted raw kohlrabi, and this cannelloni is the first time I’ve tasted it cooked. It’s a brand new vegetable to me, and I’m so very glad I was introduced to it! It’s a fantastic little veggie: crisp, sweet, and almost tasting of cabbage when raw, and gaining depth when roasted.
To make the filling for this cannelloni, I roasted the kohlrabi with some shallots, garlic, cayenne, and thyme. The result is a delicious dish in it’s own right, and would make a fantastic accompaniment, mashed or not, to grilled meats or sausages. If you’re eating this cannelloni as a vegetarian meal, it makes enough to generously serve two. If you’re serving meat alongside, it should serve three. We ate it together with Cabanossi sausage, which was a delicious pairing.
580 g (about 2 medium) kohlrabi
100 g (1 large) shallot
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 teaspoon thyme
mashed kohlrabi mixture
250 g (8.8 oz) mascarpone
60 g (about 2/3 cup) Grana Padano (fresh or pre-grated)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
leaves reserved from the kohlrabi (optional)
approximately 16 cannelloni shells
390 g (13.75 oz) tomato purée
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
First, roast the kohlrabi and shallots for the filling. Preheat the oven to 230C/450F. Wash, peel, and cube the kohlrabi, reserving any young, tender leaves for the filling. Peel and roughly chop the shallot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large baking dish, then add the garlic, cayenne, and thyme, and give it a stir. Add veggies and toss to coat. Roast for 30 minutes—giving them a good stir after 20—until tender and slightly charred.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and let it cool a bit. Blend the kohlrabi and shallots—in a blender or with a stick blender—along with an additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Combine the mixture with the mascarpone, Grana Padano, egg, nutmeg, sea salt, and any reserved kohlrabi leaves (minced). Stir briskly until smooth. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, if desired, to make it a bit easier to fill the cannelloni.
Spoon the filling into a pastry bag (or an über cool Lékué Decomax!). Pour yourself a glass of wine, if desired, and fill those shells! Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
Once all the shells are filled, line them up in a large baking dish. Mix the tomato purée with the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to your taste, then pour it evenly over the shells. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, then bake for 30 minutes, until the pasta is tender.
Serve with an additional sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh snipped chives, and some freshly ground black pepper.