Requires: mortar and pestle, disposable piping bag
To make the Italian tomato sauce, place the olive oil in a heavy-based stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic clove. Cook until the onion is soft. Add the Italian passata and water. Bring to the boil, then add the basil, a pinch of salt and the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to your required consistency, stirring occasionally so that the sauce does not stick to the pot and burn, then remove from the heat. Add additional water, where required. Discard garlic clove. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C conventional oven/ 180°C fan-forced (400° Fahrenheit/Gas 6).
Meanwhile, to make the Besciamella (Bechamel) sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to form a smooth paste (a roux). Allow the flour and butter mixture to cook for a minute (but do not allow it to brown). Remove from the heat. Slowly pour the cold milk into the roux, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Add the bay leaf and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring with the wooden spoon until the Besciamella comes to the boil and thickens (approximately 10 minutes). Remove from heat. Season with salt to taste and stir in freshly grated nutmeg. Set aside to cool slightly.
To make the meat cannelloni filling, using a mortar and pestle to crush the fennel seeds. Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook the onion, carrot and celery, stirring, until the onion is soft (approximately 4 minutes). Add the beef mince (ground meat). Break up the sausage meat with your hands and add it to the frying pan. Add the rosemary (or thyme) and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, breaking up any lumps until the mince mixture is lightly browned all over. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the white wine. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the wine has reduced. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
Once the cannelloni filling has cooled, add the 2 eggs, 35g of the Parmigiano Reggiano (set aside the remaining Parmigiano for the top) and a ladleful of the Italian tomato sauce to keep the filling lovely and moist.
Ladle 1/3 of the remaining Italian tomato sauce into a large baking dish.
Place 1 sheet of lasagne (approximately 18cm X 20cm in size) onto a chopping board. Spoon the meat cannelloni filling down the centre. Brush the pasta sheet with water around the filling. Roll up to enclose the filling. Lay the cannelloni into the prepared dish on top of the Italian tomato sauce, seam-side down. Repeat using the remaining lasagne sheets and meat filling, placing the cannelloni close together in a single layer.
Note: You can make your own fresh lasagne sheets – refer to Fresh Egg pasta for the recipe.