Involtini in ragu

In Italian involtini means ‘little birds’. These stuffed meat parcels are usually served with pasta, but here cannellini beans are used to boost the slow-release carbohydrates.


Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Serves: 4


4 very thin sirloin steaks, about 85–115g each, fat removed

freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp cannellini beans, taken from the sauce ingredients (see below)

15g Parmesan cheese, grated

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 tbsp fresh chives, snipped

For the sauce

A few sprays of olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste

1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, finely sliced

2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

90ml red wine

200ml tomato passata

200ml chicken stock

2 teaspoons sugar or low-calorie granulated sweetener

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 x 400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

handful of fresh basil leaves, ripped


1 Beat the steaks flat with a meat mallet or a rolling pin, taking care not to tear the meat. Season with black pepper. In a mini food processor blend the beans with the Parmesan, garlic, parsley and chives and season with more pepper. Spread this mixture over the steaks then roll each slice tightly, securing each involtini with a cocktail stick.

2 Spray a little oil in the bottom of a large ovenproof lidded pan or casserole dish. Over a medium heat, fry the involtini all over to brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Into the pan add the onion, garlic, oregano, carrot, celery and chillies. Cook over a moderate heat until the onions have softened and are starting to brown, about 12–15 minutes.

3 Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C/R3. When the onions in the pan have softened, pour in the wine and boil vigorously until the liquid has all but disappeared. Add the passata, chicken stock, sugar or sweetener and chopped tomatoes. Return the involtini to the sauce and bring to the boil, cover and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 2 hours, stirring from time to time.

4 Remove the involtini from the sauce and keep them warm, then add the beans and basil to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Season to taste, then return the involtini to the dish. Serve hot.

Recipes courtesy of The Essential Diabetes Cookbook by Antony Worrall Thompson, Published by Kyle Books, RRP £18.99. Images by Jonathan Gregson.

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