THE ART OF ITALIAN DINING
Oh My Cannelloni! How much do I love you?
this is seriously one of my favorite things to make and eat probably because it is one of my mother’s staple. So I couldn’t help but show the wonderful Lisa Haffner how I make mine (WATCH HERE) Cannelloni usually refers to rectangular pasta sheets that are rolled with a savory filling which includes ricotta and spinach but also various types of tomatoes sauce and meats. It is then covered with a sauce, typically classic tomato and béchamel sauce, although In Italy there are many variations of this dish.
Be careful however, to not confused Cannelloni with manicotti, the major difference being that manicotti are dried preshaped tubes. In fact, in Italian cannelloni literally means “large reeds”, while manicotti means “sleeve”.
How did this dish came to be? The cannelloni was invented in 1907 at the restaurant La Favorita better known as the ‘O Parrucchiano in Sorrento, Italy by the chef Salvatore Coletta.
They were known as strascinati (dragged) because the pasta was rolled and stretched by a rolling pin. They acquired a remarkable reputation along with the chef Nicola Federico (born in Naples July 2, 1891) who moved to Sorrento at a young age and married the young Sorrentina , Fortunata Scarpati (born December 26, 1901). Nicola worked in the restaurant for 31 years and became famous because of the Zeppole di San Giuseppe and the strascinati , which in the meantime had taken the name cannelloni .
During the Second World War, with many families moving to Sorrento from Naples to escape the bombings, the cannelloni experienced a boom and became the popular dish of the restaurant particularly on Sundays. It was recalled that 120 kg of pasta was prepared and completely consumed in one day.
Now, i am not going to pretend you prepare 120kg of Cannelloni, but a couple of trays are definitely work a try.
Buon Appetito Amici!
** VIDEO RECIPE HERE **
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt, parmesan cheese and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.
SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE
• olive oil
• ¼ of a carrot , grated
• a couple of stems of parsley , chopped
• ¼ of a celery stick, chopped
• Canned San Marzano Tomatoes
• 1 handful of basil leaves
• 1 clove garlic , crushed
To make a classic Italian tomato sauce, heat some olive oil, add the garlic. Then add the carrot, parsley and celery and fry gently until brown. Then add the San Marzano tomatoes. Stir in the basil and half a cup of water, simmer for 30 or more minutes until sauce is flavorful and reduced. Use an immersion blander (or transfer liquid to a regular kitchen blender being careful because hot) to blend the sauce and make it smooth. Set aside.
TO MAKE FILLING
2 egg, lightly, beaten
1 10 ounce package spinach, trimmed, cooked, drained, and, chopped
1 500 gram tub of good ricotta cheese
5 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 pinches of salt
2 pinches of pepper
1 pinch of nutmeg
In a large bowl mix the cooked and chopped spinach, the ricotta with the egg and the Parmesan cheese. Add a little bit of nutmeg if needed. Season generously.
PUT IT TOGETHER
• Around 18 dried cannelloni pasta (if you can’t find them you can buy Manicotti pasta)
• 18 instant (no boil) lasagna sheets (Barilla kind) OR fresh lasagna noodles
Spoon the ricotta and spinach mixture into the cannelloni tubes using a piping bag to squeeze the mixture. You can make your own piping bag by getting a Ziploc bag and putting the spinach mix into the corner of it. Then twist the bag up and cut the corner off. Carefully squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes so each one is filled right up – really easy. (If you are using the instant lasagna sheets let them soak in cold water for 15 minutes until soft. Pat dry and place the filling in the center and roll them to form a tubular shape. Make sure there is enough filling in each of them)
Place a little bit of tomato sauce atthe bottom of a buttered baking tray. Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Now drizzle the Besciamella Sauce on top of the cannelloni (if it is too thick you can add a little water or milk until you can easily it over the cannelloni. Once covered, add a little more tomato sauce on top, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350F covered with foil for about 30-35 minutes + the last 5-10 minutes without foil to get it golden and bubbling.
Serve warm! Buon Appetito
Tips for freezing
Allow the cannelloni to cool at room temperature before covering well with cling film, then freeze. Always freeze on the day you make it. Defrost uncooked cannelloni in the fridge overnight, then cook as per recipe. To cook from frozen: heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and cook, covered with foil, for 1 hr 25 mins. Remove foil, turn oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and cook, uncovered, for 20-30 mins.
Tips for freezing cooked cannelloni
Freeze individual cooked portions in ovenproof dishes or foil trays. Simply reduce the cooking time slightly when re-heating.