When AJ and I were newlyweds living in Pensacola, we lived mostly on chicken breasts grilled on the George Foreman and Mahatma rice mixes. On weekends when we had a bit more time away from work, we started cooking simple dishes together, sometimes pulling ideas from the few cookbooks on our shelf. My favorite to peruse was the shiny Essentials of Healthful Cooking my mom had given me. We loved the full page, enticing pictures that accompanied each healthy recipe complete with detailed instructions.
One Saturday night, we invited one of AJ’s buddies from the Academy whom was also in training with him at the Naval Air Station, over for supper. I wanted a comforting, special dish to serve him as he was pining for his lovely, pregnant Navy nurse wife in California, waiting for her to transfer to Florida. Traditional Cannelloni is a baked pasta dish stuffed with ground meat, usually pork & veal, vegetables and cheese and topped with a Béchamel or white sauce made with a roux and scalded milk. The healthified version in Essentials is made with Eggplant in place of the noodles and ground turkey for the filling. Although the first go around took me the better part of the afternoon to prepare, the boys apparent enjoyment of the finished dish made it well worth it. By the way, the couple are happily living in Hawaii with three beautiful little boys now. : )
Recently, as AJ and I sat down to my naturally veggiefied version of the original he pointed out the full circle the dish had made as our tastes and life had evolved the last 5 years.