We recently sat down with TV chef Gino D’Acampo to talk about his passion for all things Italy (see Sept 17th issue of the magazine). This coming Friday, Sept 13th, begins his new series for ITV ‘Gino’s Italian Escape‘.

He’ll be traveling all over Southern Italy and sharing some of his favourite recipes along the way. There is a book to accompany the TV series published by Hodder & Stoughton which is packed with over 100 deliciously simple recipes. Gino very kindly gave us permission to publish two of his recipes here… We can confirm, having attempted both of them ourselves, that they taste as good as they look!

Gino’s Italian Escape, published in hardback and eBook on 14th September 2013, priced £13 from Amazon.co.uk.


Rolled Filled Pasta with Pesto and Béchamel Sauce

Cannelloni was invented in Sorrento in the early 1900s by a chef from Naples. Today you’ll find a recipe for it in many Italian cookery books, so I had to include a version here. As you’ll see, this is a traditional-style cannelloni with a bit of a twist, and I think you will love the result.

Gina D'Acampo cannelloni recipe


    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 courgette, finely chopped 500g minced beef
    • ½glass of red wine
    • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
    • 5 fresh basil leaves
    • 350ml passata (sieved tomatoes)
    • 12 ready-made fresh pasta sheets
    • salt and pepper to taste

For the pesto

    • 30g pine nuts
    • 100g fresh basil leaves
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled
    • 170ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 30g freshly grated parmesan cheese


For the béchamel sauce

    • 50g butter
    • 50g plain flour
    • 500ml semi-skimmed milk
    • 50g freshly grated parmesan cheese

How to make:

    1. Place the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat and gently fry the onion, carrot and courgette for 10 minutes, until softened.
    1. Add the minced beef and stir continuously for a further 5 minutes to allow the meat to cook evenly. Add the wine, bring to a simmer and cook gently for a couple of minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
    1. Add the tomato purée, basil leaves and passata, stirring with a wooden spoon. Simmer on a low heat, with the lid half on, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, then leave to cool at room temperature.
    1. To make the pesto, put the pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan in a food processor or blender and blitz together. Set aside.
    1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
    1. To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour, whisking constantly, until you get a thick, creamy texture with a light brown colour. Pour in a third of the milk and continue whisking. When the mixture starts to thicken, pour in another third of the milk and continue whisking.
    1. Once thickened again, pour in the rest of the milk and the Parmesan. Whisk until the sauce has a custard-like consistency. Remove from the heat and mix in the prepared pesto.
    1. Pour a third of the pesto béchamel into the bottom of a baking dish measuring about 30 x 20cm and 5cm deep.
    1. Place a pasta sheet on a chopping board with the longer side nearest you and put a heaped tablespoon of the beef sauce along one edge. Gently roll the pasta forward to create a filled cannelloni. Repeat until all the pasta sheets are filled. Place the cannelloni, seam downwards, in the baking dish and pour the remaining pesto béchamel over them.
    1. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes before serving – this helps the cannelloni to hold together better.
    1. If you are preparing the cannelloni the day before you plan to eat it, cover with cling film and refrigerate. Take out of the fridge 20 minutes before cooking, and bake in a preheated oven at 180oC/gas mark 4 for 45 minutes.


Gino D'Acampo's Italian Escapes


Gino’s Italian Escape, available from amazon.co.uk, priced £13.