The other day I wanted to surprise the Mr with a dish that I used to make him when we first met. When you’ve been with someone for a long time, sometimes you run out of things to surprise them with so you have to keep reinventing stuff you already made. The simplest thing is to go back to the basics. Something simple but symbolic. That is what this cannelloni dinner proved to be.
Back when I was eating meat, I regularly prepared cannelloni with sweet Italian sausage, ricotta and spinach. I also filled jumbo shells with the same filling and it was delish every time! If you decide to do the meat version, simply swap out the mushrooms for pre-cooked, crumbled Italian sausage. But, if the Mr can eat the vegetarian one and really enjoy it, so can you! The best thing about a dish like this is that the filling is up to you…stuff the cannelloni with what you and your family
like LOVE to eat! This is a great way to get the entire family involved in dinner prep – lay out all the fillings and have each person stuff their own tubes with whatever they want – this is really great to do with your kids!
I didn’t have any spinach so I steamed my broccoli in the microwave for 1 minute and put it in my mini-chopper along with the basil
Add EVOO to help with the process. You want it to be chunky though…not a gloopy pureed mess!
I decided to add sun-dried tomatoes because I love them and they pack a punch of flavor!
I chopped up some Portobello Mushrooms and sauteed them up in some olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar
Because I already have too many dishes to wash, I added my brocolli-basil mixture and ricotta to the same saucepan I sauteed my mushrooms in
Mix it up. I know, it doesn’t look appetizing but you’ve got to trust me on this …it will taste like heaven later on!
Add your grated cheese and fold gently
Get your cannelloni. Because I couldn’t be bothered to boil lasagne sheets/shells/cannelloni, I always buy a brand that is “Pronti da infornare” or Ready to Bake! If you can’t find this type just follow the boil instructions on your package.
Here’s how they look. In my opinion, its actually easier to stuff these than those boiled ones… At this point, wash your hands good and get ready to stuff.
It’s quite messy but I’ve found that my fingers are the best tools I have. What I did was get some filling into one end and then use my index finger to push the filling inside the tube. Repeat the process on the other end and the cannelloni will be perfectly filled! If you are a purist, go ahead and fill a piping bag with the mixture and fill them but where’s the fun in that? To each his own!
Pour the tomato sauce over the cannelloni, top with cheese and bake
After about 35 minutes, pour yourself a glass of chilled white wine and wait for the adoration from your loved one(s)!
See those burnt corners? We fight for those in our house…yes, we are a little nutty.
Fork to mouth. Fork to mouth…
Recipe for: Vegetarian Cannelloni
- 14 Cannelloni
- 1 cup Broccoli
- 1 bunch Fresh Basil
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil
- Few pieces sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 cup Mushrooms
- 1 cup Mozzarella
- 1 cup Parmesan
- 1 cup Ricotta
- 3 cups tomato sauce (make your own or if you must, store bought but it won’t be nearly as tasty!)
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- In a microwavable dish, add broccoli along with 2 tsps of water and steam for about one minute. Once cooled, chop roughly and add to bowl of mini-food processor. Add basil and olive oil and pulse until combined. If using, add sun-dried tomatoes and pulse twice more. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
- Chop your mushrooms and saute them in a saucepan with a little olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. When browned, add a dash of red wine vinegar.
- In a medium bowl combine the cooled mushrooms, broccoli mixture and ricotta. Gently fold in grated Parmesan.
- Fill no-bake cannelloni by pushing filling with index finger from one end then repeating the process on the other end.
- In a buttered 9X13 baking tray, spoon some tomato sauce on the bottom then arrange your cannelloni in one layer and pour the remaining tomato sauce over each cannelloni. Top with grated Mozzarella and bake at 350F for about 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.