Cannelloni
— my life in the kitchen.

December 10, 2010

Cannelloni

Making this dish is a very nostalgic process for me. The smell of it baking takes me right back to my mom's kitchen.

This was never a weeknight dish but rather a very special Sunday dinner. Last year it was our big Christmas Eve meal and I wouldn't be upset if we adopted it as an annual tradition. But with 3 daughters who love to cook, my parents are forced to be guinea pigs to our ever evolving holiday menus.

Making this dish is a process, but so worth every effort in the end. So go to the trouble and make a double batch (it freezes beautifully). To make is easier, the filling and the Salsa Di Pomodori can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Saute the beef & spinach filling. Set aside until ready to prepare the rolls. If making ahead don't add eggs until ready to use.

Classic Besciamella sauce. Should be made right before you are ready to prepare the rolls.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce). This can be made up to 2 days ahead. It's best when cooked at least 2 hours.

Roll a tablespoon of filling for each roll and line up snuggly in a 9x13 pan.

Top the rolls with the bechamel sauce first.

Then cover with the red sauce and try not to mix the sauces. Top with parmesan cheese. They can be frozen at this point.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. If made ahead, bring to room temperature before baking (about an hour).

Cannelloni

INGREDIENTS

Meat filling:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 pound ground round
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • salt and pepper

Heat oil, add onion and garlic and saute until limp but not brown. Add ground round and brown. Drain off fat. Add spinach and cook until moisture is gone. Remove from heat and add, cheese, cream, eggs, oregano, salt and pepper.

Salsa Di Pomodori (red sauce)

  • 2 tablespons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 28 ounce can whole Italian style tomatoes, crushed by hand (I prefer Cento brand)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pepper, to taste

Heat oil, saute onions, garlic, add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours, partially covered. May need to add water if it gets to thick.

Besciamella

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Melt butter, add flour, cook stirring constantly. Pour in milk and add cream slowly and add cream slowly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook until thick. Add salt and set aside.

DIRECTIONS

To sssemble:

Cook lasagna noodles according to box. Drain, rinse and lay on towel. Let cool slightly and cut each noodle in half.

Pour a thin layer of salsa di pomodori into baking dish. Fill each 1/2 lasagna noodle with 1 tablespoon of meat filling. Roll over and place seam side down in baking dish. Lay side to side in one layer. Spoon cream sauce on top then salsa di pomodori over that. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375 until bubbly. let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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