My father loved the cannelloni served at Ferd’s, a local Italian restaurant that sadly no longer exists. He ordered it almost every time we ate there. It can be an extremely rich dish depending on the cannelloni filling and the sauces you use. This recipe is a recreation of that version so loved by my father. I will offer other options as well. Cannelloni are a tubular pasta similar to manicotti. Typically, manicotti are stuffed with ricotta cheese and other ingredients and baked in a marinara. You can use cannelloni in a like manner. There are many recipes using various fillings. You can buy cannelloni tubes in a box or use some of the no-bake lasagna noodles or buy some fresh or frozen pasta sheets at a local market. Tubes are more difficult to fill than sheets which are simply rolled up around the filling.
This recipe will make about 10 to 12 cannelloni, depending on the kind of pasta you use.
- If you use the box pasta, cook 12 of them only 1/2 the time as directed on the box. Drain and set aside to cool so you can handle them. Do not rinse them under cold water.
- If you use the no-bake noodles, boil 12 of them in some water just to the point they become pliable (about 3 minutes), remove to a sheet pan and keep them apart or they will stick together.
- If you use frozen pasta sheets, let them thaw and come to room temperature. Cut them in 3 inch by 6 inch pieces.
Oven Temp - 425 degrees F.
Cooking Time - about 40 minutes
Tools: 9” by 13” broiler-safe ceramic or metal baking dish (not glass)
Serves: 5-6 (2 cannelloni per person)
- 12 cannelloni tubes or a box of no-bake lasagna noodles or pasta sheets as described above
- 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage (ground or if in casings, remove casings)
- 12 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1/2 box of frozen spinach thawed and water completely squeezed out
- 2 eggs
- 4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
PARMESAN CREAM SAUCE
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1//4 teaspoon nutmeg
TOPPING: 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Brown the sausage in a skillet. Once almost browned, use a potato masher to break it up. Remove and drain off the fat. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together the ricotta, spinach, egg, parmesan, mozzarella and parsley. Mix in the cooled cooked meat. Set aside or refrigerate covered until you are ready to fill the pasta.
- In a large saucepan melt the butter on medium heat. Add the flour and stir to blend. Let the roux cook for 2 minutes. Now slowly add the milk while stirring constantly. Add a little at a time. Bring to a boil while constantly stirring. Once it comes to a boil, turn it off and remove from heat. Mix in the parmesan cheese.
- Grease a broiler-safe baking dish with some butter or cooking spray.
- If using the cannelloni tubes you will need a small zip-lock type bag to create a piping bag. Fill the bag about 2/3rds full with some of the filling mixture. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Cut 1/2” off one of the bottom corners. Hold the piping bag in one hand and squeeze the filling into the pasta tube until it is filled. Place it, seam side down, in the baking dish. Add more filling to the piping bag as needed.
- If using pasta sheets, place 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling near the end of shortest side of the sheet and shape it into a log. Then gently roll up the pasta to create a tube. Place it, seam side down, in the baking dish.
- Arrange the tubes evenly in the baking dish. Leave some space between them so you have room for plenty of sauce. Pour the sauce over the tubes. Do not completely cover the tubes with the sauce. Leave a little of the tops exposed. Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Cover dish with foil and bake at 425 degrees F. until it is bubbling. Remove the foil and turn on the broiler. Lightly brown the top. Remove and let cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve with some additional grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley for garnish.
- You can use a simple marinara instead of the parmesan sauce. In that case you will not use the broiler at the end so you can use a glass baking dish.
- Omit the sausage in the filling, use a whole box of the frozen spinach for a meatless version. You can use either the parmesan sauce or a marinara.