Cannelloni is that dish I eat every single time I visit my grandparents. I request it whenever I stay without fail, and to this day I have never eaten a more delicious version of this recipe.
It is my wonderful grandad who passed down this recipe to me and I have since added ingredients here and there, but the basic underlying recipe is the same. As most of my cousins are vegetarian, he’ll usually cook both a meat cannelloni and a veggie cannelloni. It’s the veggie version that rocks my taste-buds. While just as delicious, the meat version is essentially just a glorified lasagne.
The recipe consists of cannelloni tubes filled with spinach and cream cheese, layered with a tomato and a béchamel sauce. I’ll break the recipe into 4 parts to make it easy to follow. The recipe feeds 4-6, and I usually serve it with a fresh green salad (lettuce, cucumber & tomatoes) with a vinegar dressing (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, wholegrain mustard, salt & pepper).
I’d also like to add that I had a kitchen audience when I was cooking this last week (see below). Felt like I was on my own cooking show. Well. Sort of. Anyway – happy cooking y’all!
Pre-heat oven to 190°C
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-sized red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp red wine
1 tspn Marmite
1 tspn Lea & Perrins
3 tbsp butter
1-2 tspn ground nutmeg
Cannelloni tubes (comes uncooked in a box)
2 packs of fresh spinach (about 4 handfuls)
2 tubs of cream cheese
1/ Beat cream cheese until soft.
2/ Add spinach, a handful at a time, and combine until evenly distributed.
3/ Season with salt and pepper, cover and put to the side.
1/ Heat up oil in a saucepan and fry onions and celery on a medium heat until onions are translucent. If they start to burn, turn the heat down.
2/ Add tins of tomatoes, tomato purée, garlic, red wine, marmite, Lea & Perrins, salt and pepper, bay leaf, and parsley.
3/ Bring to the boil and let simmer until the sauce thickens. Once thickened, take off the heat.
#béchamelsauce (white sauce)
1/ Gently melt the butter in saucepan.
2/ Remove from heat and whisk in flour a tbspn at a time, until it forms a thick paste.
3/ Return to the heat and add enough milk to cover the bottom of the pan. Once boiling, remove from heat and whisk into the paste.
4/ Return mixture to heat, add more milk, bring to the boil, remove from heat and whisk mixture until fully combined. Repeat this process until you have a thick, but runny sauce. Sort of a thick yoghurty consistency.
5/ Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
1/ Remove bay leaf from the tomato sauce, and spread half of the sauce in the bottom of an oven proof dish (mine was approx 20cm by 20cm, but you can use rectangular).
2/ Fill enough cannelloni tubes with the spinach mixture to fill one layer of the dish.
3/ Pour the remaining tomato mixture on top.
4/ Top with béchamel sauce, and sprinkle with a generous layer of grated Parmesan cheese.
5/ Cook in oven for 40 -60 mins (until the pasta is cooked, and cheese is browning)
6/ Serve out 2-3 tubes per person with a fresh salad and enter cannelloni heaven!!