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Thread: My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

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    MVP Oct.2015 discuspaul's Avatar
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    Default My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

    (It's not only simple and easy, but several of my guests have actually said: "....it's to die for" !)

    To me, this is Italian soul food of the highest order - even if you've made or had it several times before, you must try this one !.


    THE PASTA:

    Some Italian food lovers would choose to make their own fresh pasta for this dish, or cut & roll up fresh pasta sheets - the ones generally used for making lasagna, but I almost always take the simple route of using a box of store-bought, so-called 'oven-ready', cannelloni tubes.

    These are 'hard' out of the box and can easily break up/splinter if not carefully handled, so one should parboil them first for approx. 2 minutes max - so that they soften up a bit, but are still firm enough to retain their shape and are easily stuffed with the filling, and will be of the right consistency upon baking.

    A box of these cannelloni tubes contains at or near 2 dozen pieces, which is roughly the number this recipe will make.
    After stuffing, any tubes unused that day can be frozen for later use when their taste will be every bit as good as the fresh ones.
    All one needs to do is to fresh make a bechamel sauce each time you use any from the frozen batch.


    THE FILLING - Ingredients you'll need:

    To be sauteed:

    - Approx. 1/2 lb. each of spicy (or mild) italian sausage meat, and ground beef (or pork if you prefer).

    - 1/2 cup finely chopped onion or shallot.

    - 3-4 garlic cloves finely chopped.

    - 1 Tbspn. tomato paste.

    - 1/2 cup white wine (optional).

    - 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds/ribs removed & finely chopped.

    - 1 tspn. dry oregano.

    - 1/2 tspn. powdered nutmeg.

    - Large pinch of sugar

    - Some olive oil.


    In a large saucepan over medium heat, add a tbspn of olive oil & saute the diced onions (or shallots) for 1-2 minutes, add the diced garlic & fry for another minute, then gradually add the meats and saute until cooked through, while occasionally breaking up the meat with a potato masher to ensure uniform small ground consistency.

    Then add the white wine, if using, along with the tomato paste, the diced jalapeno pepper, the oregano, the nutmeg, and the sugar - mix all ingredients well while saute-ing for a further 5 minutes or so.
    Remove from heat, drain through a sieve to remove excess fat/liquids, and allow to cool.



    To be added cold in a large bowl along with the above mixture after it has been cooked, drained and cooled:

    - 1 -500 gram tub of ricotta cheese, preferably creamy full fat.

    - 1/2 cup of coarsely grated provolone ( or substitute gruyere, swiss, cheddar, - whatever cheese you have on hand or prefer).

    - 1/3 - 1/2 cup finely grated Romano cheese (or Parmesan).

    - 2 Tbspns. Cream Cheese.

    - 1/3 - 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn apart.

    - 1/2 small tin or jar of marinated & quartered artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped.

    - 1 egg, for binding


    Mix all ingredients well together to form the completed filling for the cannelloni tubes.
    If the mixture seems too heavily 'dryish', mix in a little milk or cream to soften/moisten & better facilitate filling the tubes.

    Use a piping bag for filling each tube, or a ziplock bag with a hole cut into the bottom corner for piping, or just use your fingers like I do - works just as fast and well.


    The simple Bechamel Sauce:

    Ingredients:

    In a small to medium-sized saucepan over medium heat:

    - Melt 1 Tbspn. butter.

    - Add 2 tspns. flour & whisk together well till bubbling.

    - Add 1/4 tspn. each of white pepper and ground nutmeg.

    - Begin gradually adding 2/3 to 1 cup, or more, of milk, whisking well as the sauce thickens somewhat - approx. 2-3 minutes or so.

    - Gradually add approx. 2/3 cup coarsely grated provolone or other good melting cheese of your choice, along with approx. 1/2 cup finely grated romano, or parmesan cheese, and whisk in until melted and well blended.

    The finished white sauce needs to be quite watery, in order to remain of this consistency, more or less, as a finished baked product, with no curdling.

    The sauce consistency should be no thicker consistency than say, heavy cream, or even slightly less so.

    If it is not, add milk & whisk till that consistency is achieved. This is important. Allow to cool.

    Baking:

    Line up rows of filled cannelloni tubes, closely side by side, as many as you wish to bake in an oven-proof corning ware casserole dish of the size needed for the number of cannelloni you're baking.

    Completely cover the cannelloni with the bechamel sauce, adding more milk or cream if need be, and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of grated romano cheese over top of the sauce.

    Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so, & then finish by turning on the broiler for 2 minutes or so to nicely brown the topping of romano cheese.

    ENJOY !

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    Administrator jeep's Avatar
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    Default Re: My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

    You must show photos of these dishes. The way to my stomach is through my eyes, lol

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    Default Re: My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

    Just had it 2 days ago, Brian.

    Will do it again sometime over the next couple of weeks & take pics.

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    SimplyDiscus Sponsor and MVP Nov.2015 Disgirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

    Paul, I wish we lived near you, and you liked us enough to have us over for dinner once in awhile. I have no time to fix such a lovely dish, my husband takes too much of my time for me to spend much time cooking. I have to fix meals for him that are very fast. He has lost his sense of taste no matter what I fix. So no use in fixing anything special. It is no fun. Happy cooking to you!
    Barb


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    Default Re: My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

    I empathize with your situation, Barb - everyone needs to be able to find the time to put together something they really crave to eat - at least once in a while. I'll give some thought to coming up with a dish that's real fast & tasty that you might be able to use.

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    Default Re: My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

    You are so nice, Paul...

    I have a freezer full of left overs, so I haven't made anything new for a bit. I still have the pork loin in the freezer for your crispy pork. Before I make that I need to need to make more chiles Poblano's. I had my last one the night before last.
    Mama Bear

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    Default Re: My favorite 'go to' Italian dish of all time - simple & easy - CANNELLONI !

    Barb, here's a much shorter variation on my 'killer chicken thigh recipe', which is real fast - can be prepared for the oven in under 10 minutes for you & your hubby to have a tasty meal:

    Ingredients:

    - 4 skin -on, bone-in chicken thighs ( or skinless/boneless thighs - your choice) - quickly flattened a bit with the palm of your hand

    - 1 medium-sized red onion - quartered

    - 1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, roughly chopped

    - 2 roma tomatos - quartered

    - 3-4 garlic cloves slightly pierced with a knife and skin left on

    - 1 tspn. dried thyme

    - 1 heaping tspn. paprika

    - 2 Tbspns. olive oil

    - 1 Tbspn. balsamic vinegar

    - 1/4 tspn. each of sea salt & cracked pepper

    Add all the ingredients to a suitably-sized oven proof corning ware dish, and mix to coat the chicken thighs and all the veggies very well with the thyme, paprika, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and S.& P.

    Bake uncovered for approx. 50 minutes or so @ 350 F.

    Serve with crusty bread &/or simple salad of your choice.

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