Cannelloni from scratch Daring Cooks June Challenge

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!

I was really thrilled to see my friend Manu hosting this month’s challenge. If you have never been to Manu’s blog I urge to. She is a very talented blogger who shares authentic italian recipes but what really gets you hocked is how nice and friendly Manu is, she is one of the most talented yet humble and friendly bloggers I have ever met. She shares her recipes, stories and stunning photography on her blog Manu’s menu , do take the time to pay her a visit.

Making pasta from scratch has been on my to do list forever. The fact that I don’t have a pasta machine seem to push that project down the list time after time but when this challenge was announced and seeing who was hosting I just knew I had to do it.

The whole process turned out to be much easier than what I expected and the out come…out of this world!! I will never buy cannelloni ever again, the fresh homemade stuff is much better when it comes to flavor, texture and handling

Fillings:

I actually made cannelloni twice this month, the first over a week ago using a chicken basil and sundried tomato filling and that is when my oven exploded so sadly I don’t have any pictures of the finished cannelloni. The second was made today, using two fillings, cheese and pesto  filling and the other was a minced meat with herbs and tomatoes. I am glad to report that all three fillings turned out great and I will be making them again and again.

Cannelloni recipe

Egg pasta

Making egg pasta is very easy. You only require eggs and flour (Italian 00 or all-purpose flour) in a proportion of (1 egg per 100 grams of flour).

Ingredients

(to make enough cannelloni for 4 persons):

100 grams (2/3 cup plus 2 teaspoons) (170 ml) (3½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vinegar (I added that to eliminate any eggy smell)

Directions:

Measure out your flour, make a well in the middle

Crack the egg in the middle, add the vinegar and then using a fork whisk the egg and start whisking in the flour gradually.

When you have incorporated most of the flour start kneading the dough, incorporating the rest of the flour (the dough will be slightly tough but when you keep on kneading it softens up a little)

Knead well by hand until you obtain a smooth dough.  Make it into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

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 rolling it.

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, start rolling it again

Keep rolling it thinner,ill it is almost 1mm thick

To make cannelloni, cut out rectangular pasta sheets (10×15 cm) (4”x6”).

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons  butter

4 cups of liquid milk

white or black pepper

1 tablespoon of grated cheddar cheese or cream cheese

1-2 tablespoon grated parmesan

1 teaspoon oregano (optional)

Pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Heat  butter in a pot

Add the flour and stir until the color begins to change(you don’t want it to go dark or else it will affect the final color of the bechamel sauce)

Lower the heat

Add the milk gradually  while whisking .(you need to whisk until you have added all the milk to prevent lumps from forming)

Keep stirring until the béchamel thickens, add the oregano and basil

Add the cheese mixture and stir for two minutes

 Meat filling

1 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil

1 large onion chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 large red tomatoes, peeled and cut in small cubes

1 large red or green Pepper chopped (optional)

1 large carrot, peeled and grated (optional)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Salt

Black Pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon  Basil

( or use Italian seasoning  instead of the oregano and basil if available)

Heat the oil in a pot,add onions and garlic, stir for 5 minutes until the onions become tender

Add the minced meat and stir until the meat starts changing color

Add chopped tomatoes and stir until they soften then add the tomato paste

If you feel the mix is dry (if the tomatoes you used are not juicy) add a little boiling water

Add salt, herbs and black pepper and stir

Add the grated carrots and stir for two minutes

Add pepper and stir for a couple of minutes then allow to cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes to make sure all the flavors come together.

Pesto

Adapted from l2ma.com 

2 cups (480 ml) (80 gm) (2¾ oz) basil, washed

2 small clove garlic

1 tablespoons (15 ml) (10 gm) (¼ oz) Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ½ tablespoon

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons cream

Salt to taste

Pulse all the ingredients in the food processor till a fine paste is formed

Chicken Filling

2 chicken breasts cut into cubes

1 onion chopped

one clove garlic

2/3 cup sun dried tomatoes chopped

2 tablespoons pesto

olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions in olive oil till they are almost translucent

add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes

Add the chicken and stir till the chicken is golden brown

Add the tomatoes and pesto and stir occasionally

Cheese filling

1 cup ricotta

1 cup mozzarella

2 tablespoons pesto

stir to combine

Assemble the Cannelloni

Put a large pot with salty water on the fire and bring to a boil.  Cook the pasta sheets in it for 1 minute.  Do this in batches (I use a shallow but large pot and I cook them in 1 layer, so I am sure they do not stick together).

Remove them with a slotted spoon and put them on a clean tea towel to cool down

Now take one sheet of cooked pasta and put some of the filling along the side of the rectangle.

Do so for the remaining rectangles of pasta.

Take a big enough oven dish to fit all your cannelloni tightly.

pour some béchamel and pesto sauce on the bottom.  Spread it well, especially in the corners.

Put the cannelloni in the oven dish on 1 layer.

 Cover the cannelloni with the béchamel  and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake on the middle rack of a 220 C oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it (preferably longer) this will prevent the sauce from being too runny and that will make serving easier

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