Friday, June 15, 2012

Daring Cooks Challenge - June 2012; Cannelloni, please!

I am so excited for this month's DC challenge, which takes us to the beautiful land of Italy!

I realize that my completed task is coming out a day late, the summer schedule teamed with unnecessary procrastination led to the delayed posting. I apologize to all my DC folks.

Manu from Manu’s Menu was our Daring Cooks lovely June hostess and has challenged us to make traditional Italian cannelloni from scratch! We were taught how to make the pasta, filling, and sauces shared with us from her own and her family’s treasured recipes!

Born and raised in Milan, Italy, made it true and rightly apt for Manu to challenge us to an authentically Italian recipe.

Cannelloni are tube shaped pasta rolled with a filling, baked in an accompanying sauce. It is oftentimes mistaken for  manicotti, but Manu cleared the fuzzy correlation between the two.

The difference? Manicotti is a filled dinner crepe whereas the cannelloni refers to pre-rolled pasta.

There are many integral elements in making this dish. The pasta- making, filling, the sauces, a final assembly and bake all constitute to creating this fabulous dinner menu. Though it seems elaborate, uncomplicated it truly was, with Manu's step- by step guide supplying ample backing. She did give us the choice of creating our own cannelloni filling or select from the myriad of fillings and accompanying sauce recipes shared by herself.

For the pasta making, Manu's rule of thumb is 1 egg per every 100 gms of flour. So you can gauge amounts according to your requirements. Let me tell you, there is nothing like fresh homemade pasta. It is easy to make and tastes better than anything you can buy in the store. My friends, let this be encouragement to you when spinning out noodled creations of your own. 

Filling choices  can include a variety of cheeses, vegetables, or meats, even interchangeable combinations of the three. I left the arduous (?) task of selecting a filling upto  JZ. No doubt, he chose the substantial dual meat stuffing of pork and beef (need I have asked?). Hence, here it is, Cannelloni Di Carne, meat filled and gloriously so.

I followed Manu's recipe and directions for most of the cannelloni preparation. Any modifications of my own are included in the notes.

(Method, instructions and recipes adapted from Manuela Zangara via the Daring Cook's website)
Egg Pasta~
Ingredients: (to make enough cannelloni for 4 persons):
  • 100 grams (2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons)  all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg

  • Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and mix. 
  • When the dough looks like crumbs, place it onto a countertop sprinkled with a little flour. 
  • Knead well by hand until you obtain a smooth dough. Roll into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
  • After the rest, cut out a piece of egg pasta dough and flatten it into a rectangular shape with your hands. Put a little flour on it and begin passing it though the pasta machine. 
  • Turn the dial to the widest setting (#1) and, starting with one of the shorter sides of the rectangle, feed it through the rollers. Now fold one side of the piece of dough into the middle, then fold the other side over that to form 3 layers. Starting with one of the narrower sides of the folded dough, feed the pasta through the machine, again at the widest setting. Repeat the folding and rolling technique on the widest setting for at least a couple of times.
  • Turn the dial to the next narrowest setting (# 2). Roll the pasta through the machine without folding the dough between settings. Keep reducing the settings until #7 ( about 1 mm thick). If the sheet of pasta gets too long, you can cut it in half with a knife. 
  • To make cannelloni shape, cut out rectangular pasta sheets (4”x6”).

Note: I used the pasta roller attachment on my Kitchen Stand Mixer. You could also roll out into said thickness using a rolling pin.

Bechamel Sauce~
A bechamel sauce is basically a white sauce which has a roux base (butter and flour).

  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 c all purpose flour
  • 2 c hot milk
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg 
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, stir until smooth.Mix into butter until mixture turns a light golden color.
  • Pour in the hot milk, I cup at a time into the butter/flour mixture. All the while whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil.
  • Simmer for 5- 7 minutes on medium-low heat. Remove. Stir in salt and nutmeg.

Manu's Note: If you still get a lumpy sauce, do not throw it out. You can still save it and make it smooth by using a hand stick blender.
Note: I omitted the nutmeg, don't like the flavor in the sauce and added in a dash of black pepper.
Meat Filling~
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb ground or minced beef
  • 1 lb  ground or minced pork (or another 1lb of beef if you do not eat pork)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons white wine (can be substituted with equal amount of water)
  • 1 1/2 c Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • 3/4 c of the bechamel sauce as per above recipe
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat oil in pan over medium heat
  • Place onions and saute over medium until translucent..
  • Add both meats, break down with wooden spoon and brown.
  • Increase flame, pour in wine and let boil. Add bay leaf.
  • Simmer on medium flame for 10 minutes.
  • Mix in cheese and bechamel, salt, pepper to taste.
  • Take off heat and allow to cool.
Note: I added in 2 tsp minced garlic and 2 tsp chilli flakes to the meat mixture.

Tomato Sauce~

  • 2 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 3/4 c of canned  tomato puree
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • basil leaves

  • Place extra virgin olive oil in a pot with the chopped onion and saute onions until soft and translucent.
  • Add the tomato puree, salt, pepper and basil leaves.
  • Cover it and cook it on a low flame for 20 minutes. Then keep it aside to cool down.
I added 1 tsp cayenne, 2 tsp garlic and a couple sprigs fresh parsley to my sauce.
Assemble the dish:
You will need an additional 1/2 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano to top the dish.
  • Boil the pasta sheets in salted water until done, 3 minutes.
  • Drain pasta.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. 
  • Take a rectangular 9X13 oven proof dish  to place in all your rolled cannelloni side by side in one layer.
  • Place some of the tomato sauce on the bottom of casserole.
  • Take a sheet of pasta and put in 1/8 of filling along length of pasta. Roll over into a cylinder to make cannelloni.
  • Repeat with remaining pasta sheets.
  • Place all rolled cannelloni, seam side down, in casserole dish, side by side in one layer.
  • Cover with rest of tomato sauce and remaining bechamel.
  • Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c of parmigiano.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Then, broil for an additional 5 minutes, until top is golden brown.

I did not boil pasta separately. Instead I left the sauces warm allowing the pasta to simmer in them and be cooked in the oven.
Instead of the parmesan, I topped my cannelloni with provolone and mozzarella.

This was one of the most delicious pasta recipes I have ever made. It was hearty and substantial, the perfect family dinner. The filling meat was moist with an emphatic rich flavor, oozing cheese in every bite.

Thank you Manu for this marvelous, one of a kind challenge.

Undeniably, e'squisito!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8 (NIV)


  1. I love your finished cannelloni Tisa, that top crust is so tempting and your pictures are as always mouth watering my friend

    1. Thanks so much sweet Sawsan, "the crust" is some yummy broiled cheese :)

  2. wow..lot of efforts put in but worth the hard work..Delicious!!!

    Ongoing Events at(Erivum Puliyum)-
    1. The Kerala Kitchen(June'12)

    2.EP Series-Basil OR Cardamom

    1. It was, Julie...thanks so much, friend!

  3. Wish I knew how you got such a nice picture - looks great.

    1. Thanks so much Todd, I was actually dissatisfied with the pictures- no complaining now!

  4. Congratulation on cmpleting that tough challenger.. had seem sawsans canneloni... this too looks awesome...
    nice pic tisa

    1. Thanks Renu for the encouraging words, it actually wasn't as difficult once you started, just took a bit of time. Undoubtedly, Sawsan always does an A+ job. Daring Kitchen is one of the fun parts of foodblogging, love it.

  5. Tisa.. would also like to know which brand of stand mixr are u using?

    1. Renu, I use the Kitchen Aid 5 qt Artisan Stand Mixer... it works with a series of attachments. I just have the pasta attachments, purchased separately. Hope that helps.

  6. wow. this looks really awesome. nice one

  7. The pictures are really good and your canneloni looks very tempting! You are a great cook!!

    1. Aww, thank you Purabhi for the kind words. You spoiled me. The instructions and recipes were impeccable, so really I couldn't go wrong.

  8. I too am drooling over your bubbly, brown, cheesy topping. Great job and I love your photos.

    1. Thank you so much, we were all fighting for the topping actually :)

  9. Great job! I've never had meat filling before for cannelloni, but it looks yummy.

    1. Thank you so much Andy! Although we love cheeses and veggies,meat is a favorite filling.

  10. that is lot of hard work... it looks great and tempting.. wish I could grab that plate... I'm a lazy person, would've ran thinking of the hard work :)

    1. Thanks Ms. Reshmi! I know I don't make pasta from scratch, much. It was a mind thing for me, when I finally got to doing it, all was fine :)

  11. Great job, well done! Looks like you had a good dish of leftovers too...

    Cut the pasta if it gets too long? Isn't that part of the fun...

    Stay JOLLY!

    ps. our roller (hand cranked) is #7 for fattest #1 for skinniest... *chuckle*

    1. Thanks David! Not many leftovers with the 4 of us,I wish though! I know I thought the same thing too about the long sheets, didn't cut too short though. Your hand cranker must've yielded some good results too.

  12. This looks amazing. I always thought canneloni was the crepe and manicotti was the pasta. And I'm Italian!

    1. Thank you Julie... How funny-I always thought this rolled pasta was manicotti- and I'm not Italian (hehe) All doubts were cleared through this task though.

  13. What a beautifully made canneloni my friend - this looks absolutely delicious and perfect :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  14. Looks like it's worth all the effort... Looks Perfect and Delicious...

    Yum! Yum! Yum!

    1. Thank you, thank you Mythreyi! It was fun to make, more fun to eat. Thanks for the follow too :)


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