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Italian eggplant & white zucchini cannelloni

Eggplant and zucchini cannelloni

Recipe from Nino Zoccali's cookbook, Pasta Artigiana


100 ml (3½ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
350 g (12 oz) Italian eggplant (aubergine), finely diced
350 g (12 oz) medium white zucchini (courgette), finely diced
250 g (9 oz) onion finely diced
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
150 g (5½ oz) fresh ricotta cheese
200 g (7 oz) aged buffalo mozzarella cheese, half sliced and half processed in a food processor to breadcrumb size
150 g (5½ oz/1½ cups) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) Neapolitan tomato sauce (see below)
300 g (10½ oz) fresh egg pasta dough rolled into 1mm (1/32 inch) lasagne sheets (see below)
6 sweet basil leaves, torn


Preheat the oven to 180° (350°F/Gas 4). Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and separately sauté the eggplant, zucchini and onion over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until fully cooked and soft, seasoning to taste. Cool to room temperature then combine with the ricotta, the processed buffalo mozzarella and half of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Add more seasoning with the sea salt and black pepper if required.

To assemble the cannelloni, spoon some of the Neapolitan tomato sauce to cover the base of a 24 x 20 x 5cm (9½ x 8 x 2 inch) ovenproof baking dish. Place the vegetable mixture in a piping (icing) bag with a 2 cm (¾ inch nozzle and pipe on to one of the pasta sheets. Roll and seal the edge with a little water and cut before placing the cannelloni into the dish. Repeat with the remaining mixture and pasta. Cover with the remaining sauce and place the basil leaves between the cannelloni. Finish with the sliced buffalo mozzarella and remaining Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheeses on top of the cannelloni turn a lovely golden colour. Serve hot.

Neapolitan tomato sauce - Makes approximately 700 ml (24 fl oz)

1 garlic clove
100 ml (3½ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
700 ml (24 fl oz) tomato purée, made from very ripe tomatoes
Fine sea salt, to taste
6 sweet basil leaves 


Crush the garlic clove under the blade of a kitchen knife, taking care to leave it in one piece. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan to low heat and add the garlic. Slowly cook the garlic until golden in colour and then discard. Stir in the tomato purée and season with the sea salt. Simmer for 20 minutes before adding the basil leaves.

Note: Depending on the variety and ripeness, you will need up to 1.5 kg (3 lb, 5 oz) whole tomatoes to yield this quantity. Please note that the quantity of your tomato purée is essential. It must be made from very ripe tomatoes to ensure their sweetness. If tomatoes are not to the desired sweetness, a little sugar can be added to replace the natural sweetness of the tomatoes, but the flavour will not be the same.

To peel and deseed the tomatoes, score a cross in the base of the tomatoes, plunge them into boiling water, and then transfer to a bowl of iced water. Peel, core and squeeze out the seeds. Pulse in a food processor until puréed, but be careful not to overprocess.

Fresh egg pasta dough - Makes approximately 600 g (1 lb, 5 oz)

330 g (11½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra, for kneading
70 g (2½ oz) fine semolina
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 x 60 g (2¼ oz) free range or organic eggs 


Combine the flour, semolina and sea salt and place on a work surface or large wooden board. The flour should form a peaked mound. With your hand, make a hole in the top of the mound so that it resembles a volcano. This hole needs to be big enough to be able to 'house' the eggs. Break the eggs into the hole. With your hand or with a fork, gently beat the eggs, then slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture. I do this by moving my hand in a circular motion, slowly incorporating the flour from the inside wall of the mound. Don't worry if the dough looks like a mess. This is normal.

Once fully combined, knead a little more flour into the dough if it feels a little wet and sticky. Set the dough aside and clean the work space. Dust some fresh flour onto the work surface and continue kneading the dough for another 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Next, roll the pasta to the desired thickness and cut into the desired shape.

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