Cannelloni (Daring Cooks Challenge June 2012)

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Manu from Manu’s Menu was our Daring Cooks lovely June hostess and has challenged us to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch! We were taught how to make the pasta, filling, and sauces shared with us from her own and her family’s treasured recipes!

 

I’m feeling so exhausted this month – the lack of sunshine and abundance of rain on top of juggling 4 jobs plus planning a wedding, I think my body is telling me to SLOW DOWN…

 

This challenge was energy intensive! I don’t own a pasta machine, so it required a lot of arm work!  By the time I’d done this, I was too tired to make the filling properly so opted for a faster method. I attempted CANNELLONI DI CARNE Using gourmet burger mince for the filling. I am proud to say that my béchamel and tomato sauce came out deliciously.  Using real butter in the béchamel makes all the difference.  

I thought, maybe I’m anemic, so I attempted to make an iron-rich cannelloni filling using black pudding and spinach. It looked a mess, but was  a perfect hearty meal for a cold, summers day.

 

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HOW TO MAKE EGG PASTA

Making egg pasta is very easy. You only require eggs and flour (Italian 00 or all-purpose flour) in a proportion of (1 egg per 100 grams of flour).

Ingredients (to make enough cannelloni for 4 persons):
100 grams (2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons) (170 ml) (3½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 large egg

Directions:
1. Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and mix. When the dough looks like crumbs, pour it onto the bench top sprinkled with a little flour. Knead well by hand until you obtain a smooth dough. Make it into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

2. Now you are ready to make your egg pasta. Cut out a piece of egg pasta dough and flatten it into a rectangular shape with your hands. Put a little flour on it and begin passing it though the pasta machine. Turn the dial to the widest setting (#1) and, starting with one of the shorter sides of the rectangle, feed it through the rollers. Now fold one side of the piece of dough into the middle, then fold the other side over that to form 3 layers. Starting with one of the narrower sides of the folded dough, feed the pasta through the machine, again at the widest setting. Repeat the folding and rolling technique on the widest setting for at least a couple of times.

3. Now you can start rolling it thinner, by turning the dial to the next narrowest setting (# 2). Roll the pasta through the machine without folding the dough between settings. Keep reducing the settings until #7 (it is the second last on my machine – about 1 mm thick). If the sheet of pasta gets too long, you can cut it in half with a knife. To make cannelloni, cut out rectangular pasta sheets (10×15 cm) (4”x6”).

NOTE: you can do this even without the pasta machine… just use a rolling pin to get a very thin sheet of dough and then cut it into rectangles.

 

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients (enough to make cannelloni for 4 people):
2 cups (500 ml) milk, hot
3½ tablespoons (52½ ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) butter
1/3 cup (80 ml) (50 gm) (1¾ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 pinch salt
1 pinch nutmeg

Directions:
1. Put the butter in a non-stick pot and let it melt. Add the flour and whisk constantly until well incorporated: this is the “roux”. Let it cook for a minute or two.
2. Now start adding hot milk little by little, while mixing continuously until the milk is well incorporated. Do not add more milk unless it is well incorporated. Keep doing so until all the milk is incorporated.
3. Add salt and nutmeg and cook it on a low flame for 10 minutes or until it thickens.

4. When ready, cover it to prevent a film to appear on the surface.

Note: If you still get a lumpy sauce, do not throw it out. You can still save it and make it smooth by using a hand stick blender.

 

CANNELLONI DI MAGRO

This is one of the 2 most classic recipes for cannelloni. “Magro” means “lean”, but when used in a recipe it actually means “without meat”, so it is a vegetarian dish. The filling is very simple and it is made up of spinach, ricotta and Parmigiano Reggiano. The filled cannelloni are then covered with béchamel sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano and baked. They are my absolute favourite!

Ingredients (serves 4):
Cannelloni sheets per recipe above (you should have about 8 sheets)
2 bunches (500 gm) (1 lb) spinach (raw to be cleaned)
1-2/3 cups (400 ml) (400 gm) (14 oz) ricotta
2 cups (480 ml) (120 gms) (4 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated, divided
Salt and pepper
1 pinch nutmeg
1 large egg
Béchamel sauce as per above recipe

Directions:
1. Clean and wash the spinach. Cook them for 2 minutes in salty boiling water. Drain them and run some cold water on them to cool it down quickly (this will help them retain a nice green colour). Keep them in the colander for 1 hour to lose the excess water. Then squeeze them with your hands to get rid of as much liquid as possible. Now cut them finely with a knife.
2. Put the ricotta in a bowl, add the minced spinach, egg, 1½ cups (85 gms/3 oz) of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Put a large pot with salty water on the fire and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta sheets in it for 1 minute. Do this in batches (I use a shallow but large pot and I cook them in 1 layer, so I am sure they do not stick together). Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down.
4. Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put 1/8 of the filling along the long side of the rectangle. Roll it over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta.

5. Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly. Spray it with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some béchamel sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer.
6. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup (35 gm/1 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano.

7. Bake them in a pre-heated moderate oven 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes, then broil (grill) them at 400°F/200°C for another 5 minutes.
8. Serve immediately.

 

CANNELLONI DI CARNE

This is another classic recipe for cannelloni. It is a meat filled version of the dish and it is my husband’s favourite. It is a pretty straightforward recipe but it requires a couple of extra steps if compared to the Cannelloni di magro recipe, as the filling has to be cooked before being used in the pasta, but I can guarantee that you will not mind the extra work when you eat it!

Ingredients (serves 4)
Cannelloni sheets per recipe above (you should have about 8 sheets)

For the filling
1 lb (400 gm) beef mince
1 lb (400 gm) pork mince (or another 1 lb – 400 gm of beef mince if you do not eat pork)
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoon (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
5 tablespoons (75 ml) white wine (optional – you can skip this if you do not drink alcohol)
1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
¾ cups (200 ml) of the béchamel sauce as per above recipe
Salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2¾ cups (680 ml/1½ pint bottle) of tomato purée
A few basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

To assemble
The remaining (about 1¼ cup/300 ml) béchamel sauce as per above recipe
½ cup (35 gm/1 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

Directions:
1. Start by cooking the meat for the filling. Put the 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pan with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the mince and bay leaf and stir well with a wooden spoon making sure you remove all the lumps. Brown the meat well. Add the white wine (if you are using it – otherwise add some water, just enough to cook the meat) and raise the fire to burn off the alcohol. Cook for 10 minutes on medium fire and then keep it aside to cool down.

2. Now prepare the tomato sauce. Place the 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a pot with the chopped onion and sauté until soft and translucent. Now add the tomato purée, salt, pepper and basil leaves. Cover it and cook it on a low flame for 20 minutes. Then keep it aside to cool down.

3. To make the filling, mix the cooked mince with the ¾ cup (200 ml) of béchamel sauce and 1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

4. Put a large pot with salty water on the fire and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta sheets in it for 1 minute. Do this in batches (I use a shallow but large pot and I cook them in 1 layer, so I am sure they do not stick together). Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down.
5. Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put 1/8 of the filling along the long side of the rectangle. Roll it over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta.
6. Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly. Spray it with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some tomato sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer.
7. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining tomato sauce and 1¼ cup/300 ml béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup (35 gm/1 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano.

8. Bake them in a pre-heated moderate oven 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes, then broil (grill) them at 400°F/200°C for another 5 minutes.
9. Serve immediately.

 

CANNELLONI WITH RICOTTA, HAM AND FONTINA

This is a recipe I found while browsing the web. I loved the flavour of Fontina and ham together! It is not a classic recipe, but I thought of sharing it with you to show you how you can experiment with different ingredients and come up with all sorts of fillings!

Ingredients (serves 4)
Cannelloni sheets per recipe above (you should have about 8 sheets)
1½ cups (360 ml) (350 gm) (12 oz) ricotta
1 cup (240 ml) (150 gm) (5 oz) ham, minced
2/3 cup (160 ml) (80 gm) (2¾ oz) Fontina (or Fontal) cheese, cubed
2 cups (420 ml) (120 gm) (4 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated, divided
1 large egg
Salt and pepper
Béchamel sauce as per above recipe

Directions:
1. To make the filling, mix the ricotta, diced ham, cubed Fontina cheese, egg, 1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper together until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Put a large pot with salty water on the fire and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta sheets in it for 1 minute. Do this in batches (I use a shallow but large pot and I cook them in 1 layer, so I am sure they do not stick together). Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down.
3. Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put 1/8 of the filling along the long side of the rectangle. Roll it over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta.

4. Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly. Spray it with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some béchamel sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer.
5. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) (35 gm/1 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano.

6. Bake them in a pre-heated moderate oven 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes, then broil (grill) them at 400°F/200°C for another 5 minutes.
7. Serve immediately. Note: Recipe Source http://www.ricettedellanonna.net/cannelloni-ricotta-prosciutto-cotto-e-fontina/

 

CANNELLONI AL PESTO

This is another one of my favourites. I love pesto and making cannelloni with it takes this dish to a new dimension! I am also going to show you how to make authentic Italian pesto from scratch. It is a great vegetarian option!

Ingredients (serves 4)
Cannelloni sheets per recipe above (you should have about 8 sheets)

For pesto (makes about 190 gms/ 1cup)
2 cups (480 ml) (80 gm) (2¾ oz) basil, washed
¼ cup (60 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) parsley, washed
1 small clove garlic
3 tablespoons (45 ml) (25 gm) (¾ oz) Pecorino Romano, finely grated
1 tablespoons (15 ml) (10 gm) (¼ oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
4 to 5 tablespoons (45 to 60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon (12½ ml) (5 gm) pine nuts
Salt to taste

For the filling
2 cups (480 ml) (500 gm) (18 oz) ricotta
¾ cup (180 ml) (150 gm) (5⅓oz) pesto (from the above recipe)
1½ cups (360 ml) (85 gm/3 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
1 pinch nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small potato, boiled and sliced
8 green beans, boiled

To assemble
2 cups (500 ml) béchamel sauce
¼ cup (60 ml) (40 gm) (1½ oz) of pesto (from the above recipe)
½ cup (120 ml) (35 gm/1 oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

Directions:
1. Start by making pesto. Simply blend the garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil, parsley and half the extra virgin olive oil together (I use a hand blender to do this) until obtaining a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl, add the grated cheeses and the remaining extra virgin olive oil and mix well. Adjust salt to taste and cover it with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil to prevent oxidation. Keep it aside.

2. To make the filling, mix the ricotta, ¾ cup (150 gm) of pesto, 1½ cups (85 gm/3 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano, nutmeg, salt and pepper together until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Mix the béchamel sauce with the remaining pesto.

4. Put a large pot with salty water on the fire and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta sheets in it for 1 minute. Do this in batches (I use a shallow but large pot and I cook them in 1 layer, so I am sure they do not stick together). Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down.
5. Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put 1/8 of the filling along the long side of the rectangle. Put 1 boiled green bean and 1 or 2 slices of boiled potatoes on top and roll the pasta over to make a cannellone. Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta.
6. Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly. Spray the oven dish with some cooking oil (or melted butter) and pour some béchamel and pesto sauce on the bottom. Spread it well, especially in the corners. Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer.
7. Cover the cannelloni with the béchamel and pesto sauce and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup (120 ml) (35 gm/1 oz) of Parmigiano Reggiano.

8. Bake them in a pre-heated moderate oven 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes, then broil (grill) them at 400°F/200°C for another 5 minutes.
9. Serve immediately.

Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: You can easily make the pasta sheets in advance and freeze them uncooked for up to 3 months. Simply let them dry for a few hours and wrap them individually in cling wrap and then put them in a freezer bag.
You can also prepare the full dish and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking it, or freeze it covered with aluminum foil. Defrost it and/or bring it back to room temperature before baking it.

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4 responses to “Cannelloni (Daring Cooks Challenge June 2012)

  1. Not sure why you say it looks a mess – looks great to me. This was a very hard challenge to get a good pic of I think.

    • Thanks Todd! I’m glad you like it! I do get a bit of cannelloni insecurity when looking at everyone elses perfectly formed dishes.

  2. looks good to me, too. thanks for sharing all the info. i can’t seem to get recipes to work correctly on my blog, so generally don’t post them…just my experiences doing the challenge! have a great day

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