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From time to time I want some tasty food,  but just don’t feel like expending the energy to put all the ingredients together.  At times like that I think a few shortcuts are acceptable.  In this recipe the shortcuts are the sauces.   Substitute with your favourites – and of course, you can always cook them from scratch (which I often do).  The pasta I already had in the freezer from an earlier time when I had made cannelloni – phew that was lucky.

We have a lot of walnuts which need using – so I spent a little time in the afternoon shelling a bowl full.  We both love using walnuts in our cooking.  When I made the filling I could have gobbled it all up without any further cooking – it smelt SO good.  But I held back.  Difficult though.

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  • 500g chicken mince, or finely diced chicken breast or thigh
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped roasted walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons pesto
  • 3 cups baby spinach, washed
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup Passata
  • 325g jar Carbonara Sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8-12 fresh cannelloni or lasagne sheets



Pulse ¾ cup walnuts with pesto (add a little oil if too dry). Chop shallots and garlic. Heat a pan with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and add shallots and garlic. When soft add chicken and cook until chicken is just cooked. Add the baby spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.   Take pan off the heat and let cool.   When cool combine chicken mixture with the pulsed walnuts and pesto. Add grated parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.   Mixture should be slightly moist, but not runny.


Cover bottom of ovenproof dish with the passata. Dip a cannelloni sheet in hot water to soften and place on a flat surface. Spoon chicken filling along the longer pasta sheet edge and roll up to form a cylinder. Place in the dish, seam side down. Repeat to use all sheets.


Pour carbonara sauce over cannelloni, cover and bake at 180°C for 30 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with remaining walnuts and some chopped parsley.

Good with a fresh salad and some warm garlic bread.