Cannelloni is a type of pasta which are shaped in cylindrical form then stuffed with various fillings and covered with tomato and/or béchamel sauce. Usual stuffing are minced meats, spinach and ricotta.
Cannelloni in the Italian language means “big pipes” which is an accurate description of this pasta. In 1907 it was invented by Salvatore Coletta at Ristorante ‘o Parrucchiano la Favorita in Sorrento, Italy. It was first called “strascinati” an Italian word for “dragged”, it was named as such because of the way the pasta was rolled and stretched.
During the old days the only way to enjoy this is with fresh pasta which is rolled and stretched but nowadays we have those ready-made dried ones, unfortunately in New Zealand this pasta type is hard to find in major supermarkets so we will improvise a bit for this recipe. I will be using a dried lasagne sheets which I soaked in hot water until it becomes soft enough to be rolled and here are the results, I must say you won’t even know it’s made out of lasagne sheets.
Ingredients (Meat Sauce)
700g lean minced beef
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 packet spinach, chopped
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup fresh cream
3 tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, minced
freshly ground black pepper
Ingredients (Béchamel Sauce)
1/3 cup flour
350ml whole milk
1 clove garlic, minced
6 pcs cannelloni tubes or 6 sheets lasagne
Note: for dried lasagne, soak it in hot water first until soft enough to roll.
1. In a heavy pan, add olive oil then sauté garlic and onions.
2. Add celery and cook until onions and celery are soft.
3. Add the minced beef and cook until light brown in colour.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and dried oregano, simmer to 10 minutes.
5. Add the spinach, cream and lemon juice, cook for 2 minutes then turn heat off.
6. Add the basil then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside and let it cool down.
7. In a rectangular oven proof dish add a layer of sauce in the bottom.
8. Fill each lasagne sheets with the meat mixture and roll, place them in the dish with seal side on the bottom. If you are using cannelloni, prepare it first according to packet instructions and fill then individually with the mixture. Leave a small amount of meat mixture to fill the gaps between each cannelloni roll. Set dish aside.
9. In a sauce pan, melt butter in low heat. Once hot and melted add the flour to form a roux.
10. Add the garlic and pour in milk gradually until and cook until it forms a lump free thick sauce.
11. Pour sauce on top of prepared cannelloni dish, add a generous amount of parmesan cheese on top then add a generous amount of mozzarella cheese on top.
12. Bake in a 200C preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until the top turns golden brown in colour.