Thursday, August 23, 2007

ARF / 5-A-Day Entry: Lighter Veggie Cannelloni

Well, I'm a little late with today's post, but with yoga in the A.M. and waiting over an hour in my M.D.'s office this afternoon, I didn't get much chance to sit on my butt today! Howeeeeever, I do have a great recipe to submit to SweetNick's ARF/5-A-Day event, and it's for a hearty pasta dish that gets LOADED with all the greatness that our gardens are producing at an alarming rate. Let's see what's in here... onions, garlic, carrots, zucchini, beets, mushrooms and the motherlode of our garden - tomatoes!

The tomato is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family, as are tobacco, chili peppers, potato, and eggplant. Technically, the tomato is neither a fruit nor a vegetable, but a berry (or scientifically ovary). Actually, I saw on WikiPedia (so who knows, really) that the term "vegetable" is not a scientific one at all, and is purely culinary. Go figure!

Here's some more in-depth information on the superb anti-oxidant powers of this plant, courtesy of MelbourneTomato.com:

Several recent studies have shown that a diet rich in tomatoes and tomato
products is strongly linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers. In a six year
study of 48,000 male professionals, Dr Edward Giovannucci and colleagues at
Harvard Medical School found that consuming tomatoes and tomato based products
between five to seven serving a week was associated with a reduced risk of
prostate cancer of 21% to 34%.

Another study published in the International Journal of Cancer said that
lycopene appears to protect against cancer of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus,
stomach, colon and rectum. Researchers at the University of Illinois report that
women with the highest lycopene levels had a five fold lower risk of developing
precancerous signs of cervical cancer than women with lowest lycopene
levels.

As an interesting little piece of trivia (consider it an appetizer for the main attraction), it has also been said that the tomato became popular during the French Revolution, because the revolutionaries' iconic color was red. Leaders suggested that the revolutionaries should eat red food as a show of loyalty.

Lighter Veggie Cannelloni
Serves 6
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup grated beets
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1-1/2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 oz fat-free cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 small package (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup skim ricotta cheese
12 cannelloni tubes, uncooked
3 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
  1. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onions.
    Cook and stir until softened.
  2. Add garlic, carrots, zucchini, beets, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and pepper. Cook for about 3 more minutes.
  3. Add cream cheese and spinach and stir until melted and spinach is broken apart.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in ricotta cheese.
  5. Transfer filling to a large bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  6. Cook pasta 6-7 minutes. It should still be very firm.
  7. Using a teaspoon, stuff tubes.
  8. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce over bottom of 2 baking dishes.
  9. Arrange 6 stuffed tubes in each dish.
  10. Pour remaining sauce over pasta and sprinkle with mozzarella.
  11. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes.

You can freeze one tray for later in the week if required!

With all the goodness that's stuffed into this simple meal, it's a vegetarian haven in the kitchen this week! Hope you enjoy the bounty of your gardens everywhere!

1 comment :

Valli said...

Woah this canneloni is so different from anything I have ever made!!!! I will have to try it someday. By the way I have nominated you for a "Droolworthy Blogger" award if you would care to check out my blog sometime and collect...you can pass it along if you like. Your blog is truly Droolworthy!!!!