What’s on my plate: cannelloni enchiladas

I recently got hold of a copy of Mezcla by Ixta Belfrage, a wonderful eclectic mix of recipes inspired by the cuisines of Italy, Brazil and Mexico. A perfect example of this is her Canneloni Enchiladas, combining Mexican and Italian food. The béchamel sauce is flavoured with cumin, chipotle and coriander, not the usual flavours ones associates with cannelloni, but it sounded so delicious I thought I would give it a go.

The recipe calls for leftover chicken, which I didn’t have, so quickly roasted the chicken I had in the fridge. This wasn’t really a problem, but it was an extra step to add in to the process. Anyway, the next step was to make the béchamel, to which was added garlic, cumin, chipotle (I used powder rather than the suggested flakes as that was all I could find) and mozzarella. If you cook, you know that this can be a messy process – or often is for me – getting flour and milk all over the place – but I got the sauce made. Half the sauce was put into one bowl, and the chicken, chopped up into little pieces, added to the other half. Here I made a mistake…but will come back to that later.

Then I had to make the salsa roja, combining stock, tomato passata, tomato puree, garlic, melted butter, more cumin, oregano, more chipotle and salt. Two thirds of that got poured into the baking dish. This now means, four containers with things to go into the dish plus the saucepan the sauce was made in.

Then came my second mistake. I had a packet of cannelloni in the cupboard, so thought I would use them rather than the lasagne sheets suggested. Of course, I had to soften the tubes before stuffing…and if any of you out there has ever spent time stuffing cannelloni you well imagine the scene….slightly sticky pasta, a bowl full of chicken filled sauce, and the joy of over filling the cannelloni so that the stuffing oozed out. If I ever make this again, I will use the suggested fresh lasgne. sheets which you roll up, filled with the mixture. I am not sure if it is any easier, but it just has to be! Let’s just say thank goodness for a good audio book that kept me going.

The stuffed pasta was then laid (beautifully of course) on the salsa roja in the baking dish, topped with the rest of that sauce and the rest of the béchamel. Of course, I had used too much of the béchamel with the chicken, and there wasn’t enough to properly cover the pasta, so I just added some grated cheese on the top. Second mistake.

By this time I was getting just a little frustrated, but I still had to make the salsa fresca from finely chopped fresh tomatoes, oil, lime juice, coraiander and I used spring onion as I can’t eat raw ordinary onion. The idea is to top the hot food with this when it comes out of the oven. I confess to serving it on the side.

The amount of washing up at the end was horrendous. There was sauce everywhere, squeezed limes, knives, whisks, jars….again, thank goodness I had something to listen to to get me through the clear up.

The picture below does nothing for the dish which was fabulous to eat. Bursting with all sorts of flavours, a mix of creamy, spicy and tangy, it was so good to eat and I am eager to try other things from her book, but maybe those with just a little less effort.

Verdict? A lot of mess and faffing about to make, but it tasted excellent.

Would I make again? Might do as a lasagne to make life easier.

Rating ** out of *** because of the making not the eating!

This well be entered in the What’s on Your Plate blog challenge hosted by Canadian bloggers Widow Badass and Retirement Reflections. This goes live on the first Wednesday of each month and you can join in too with a food related post, just by adding yours to their linkup.

Thistles and Kiwis is a Wellington, New Zealand based blog written by Barbara, who likes cats, summer, good food and pretends to garden.

You can find Thistles and Kiwis on Facebook, and also on Instagram @thistlesandkiwis.  As for Twitter….am totally inactive these days.  If you want to get in touch, email me on thistlesandkiwis@gmail.com



  1. I’ve heard good things about that cookbook so was interested to read what you thought. That particular recipe does seem a bit faffy…and life is too short to be filling cannelloni tubes…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Barbara – You are a true Chef Rockstar! I am very inspired by your dedication and perseverence in preparing this dish. I would have run away screaming right from the very start.
    One reason that I tend to enjoy cooking is that my husband always does the clean up afterwards. It is our standard practice (which Richard came up with when we first married) and I am soooooo grateful for it!
    BTW – Are you sure you are not a professional food photographer? Your photos are amazing….incredibly creative and appealing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a whole afternoon to do the cooking at least! My husband usually washes up after dinner, but there was so much mess it had to be done immediately 😀 I really am not a food photographer…just a civil servant….


  3. I love this story! It’s so totally like what happens to me when I cook. I am now very good at salsa verde, but only because one day I picked up a six-pack of tomatillo plants to grow (can you say “impulse gardening”?) After googling and watching and worrying I ended up with enough tomatilloes to share with neighbors…but it was one long process. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have placed a hold on the book at our online library – it sounds like such an exciting fusion! Appreciate very much your sharing your prep experience – I will learn from your narrative and perhaps make parts of the recipe ahead of time, so that I only need assemble closer to meal time. Washing up tends to get the better of our kitchen these days, so hopefully breaking up the task will alleviate this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh my oh my oh my! As I start preparing for my one great cooking day of the year (actually three days) for American Thanksgiving, your account fills me with awe and trepidation. But this will be my 10th Thanksgiving, so I think I’ve got the dishes figured out.

    I really appreciated your candor, tips and observations (about substitutions and process). I’ll learn a lot from watching you. I just wish I could taste it too!

    Liked by 1 person

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