I have been making manicotti since I was a teenager. I have no recollection of who taught me how (I had two Italian Nonnas), but I rarely see this duplicated except by a few Italian cooks.
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!
A cannelloni is like a manicotti, but the difference between the two has blurred over the years. I am here to set the record straight.
Manicotti are made with egg crepes or crespelle and cannelloni are made with fresh pasta.
OK, I'm done. It's that simple and that simple to make.
I make fresh pasta all the time with all sorts of different flours and have even rolled basil leaves right into the dough, so making pasta our challenge only gives me another excuse to play with my dough.
For the filling I asked The Nudge what he would like and he says "what are my choices?"
I tell him "the world is your oyster."
He says "Hmmmmm, anything I want?"
"Yes, dear, anything."
"OK, ricotta and spinach."
"OMG, you're too funny, you can have anything and you pick spinach."
"You asked me what I wanted."
And that there is the is the crux of the problem.
I married a man with simple needs so remembering that, I planned my filling.
This dish took on many twists and turns until I finally settled on a non-traditional ravioli filling and a pesto pasta.
Traditional to Italians but not to Americans.
"OK, Lucy, 'splain".
Bologna as we know it here in the US, is a large roll of processed pork or beef meat with spices and other un-named ingredients that eventually becomes a mousse-like substance that is forced into a casing, cooked, refrigerated and sent to deli's nationwide. There it is ordered by the pound and made into at least, 50% of school children's lunches.
I know The Nudge ate bologna sandwiches everyday until the 7th grade. Scary, huh? Apparently not to him.
So, that's were I started, with Italian Bologna, called Mortadella. Trust me, a much better alternative to American bologna.
In Italy, they make a mousse using mortadella and ricotta cheese to spread on bruschetta or use as a filling for ravioli. Why not take that recipe and fill my cannelloni with it?
So keeping with the whole less cheese, more meat idea, I made a simple marinara sauce to bake them in and then a simple topping with grated Parmesan cheese.
Simple, simple and simple, just like my man.
makes 1 pound
* 2 cups flour
* 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
* 1 tablespoon of olive oil
* 1 tablespoon pesto (I used the tube version)
Process until it forms a ball, and run the processor for 1-2 minutes so it will do the kneading for you.
Remove, wrap in plastic and let relax for at least 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into 6 portions and roll each one out to the #5 setting on a pasta roller. I made them thin because i knew they would roll twice around the filling and any thicker would be too much pasta. You want a tender cannelloni and you want to taste the filling.
Spuma - Mortadella and Ricotta Filling
makes enough for 12 cannelloni
* 3/4 pound best mortadella you can find
* 2/3 cup light cream
* 4 heaping tablespoons of ricotta cheese
* 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
* pinch of fresh ground pepper
1. Chop mortadella into bite-sized chunks and place in food processor
2. Blitz sausage until reasonably smooth – you’ll know when it can’t really get any smoother without adding any liquid.
3. Add cream, ricotta and nutmeg and continue to blitz until smooth and mousse-like.
4. Taste and season with black pepper or more nutmeg according to your taste.
5. Scoop your spuma into a non-reactive bowl, press plastic wrap onto the top, and refrigerate for at least an hour so mixture can set.
* 2 cups marinara sauce
* 12 cannelloni pasta sheets
* 1 recipe Spuma (above)
* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a large baking pan, ladle enough sauce to completely cover the bottom by at least 1/2".
2. Spoon 2 tablespoons spuma into each sheet of pasta and roll. placing seam side down in baking pan.
3. Continue until all sheets are filled.
4. Ladle the remaining sauce over cannelloni, evenly covering them.
5. Place a sheet of parchement paper over baking pan, then foil to seal.
6. Bake in a 350° oven for 45 minutes. Remove pan and set oven to broil.
7. Remove foil and parchement, sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly on top, and broil for 4-5 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
Let pan rest for 20 minutes, covered or refrigerate overnight and serve the next day.