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Quicker Cannelloni You Can Count On!

May 8, 2011

I only recently learned the trick for making Cannelloni simply is using fresh lasagna sheet pasta.  Not only is the preparation simpler, but the baking time is reduced dramatically (almost in half) by using fresh pasta.  Cannelloni has moved from a weekend meal to a weeknight meal and I certainly make it a lot more often!


1 package of fresh lasagna sheet pasta

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 small container (300 grams) Ricotta cheese

About 500 grams of ground meat – you could easily remove the meat and substitute some of your favorite vegetables (and no, I did not pay over $10 for this little package of meat, it’s the last of a giant family pack I bought after freezing the rest!).

1 onion

Couple cloves of garlic

1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese – you can substitute for your favorite cheese or remove altogether as it is more for aesthetics than flavour.

Dice your onion and throw into a frying pan along with your ground meat.  Cook on medium.

Once the meat has browned a bit, add about 2/3 of the can of crushed tomatoes.  Reserve the other 1/3 for the bottom of the pan and for topping the cannelloni later.

You could also add a can of tomato paste (and an equal can of water) here to make either more sauce or the sauce even soupier.  I often do this, but my pantry was pasteless today.

And the whole container of ricotta cheese.  Stir to combine evenly.

Cut your sheets in half anyway you can, but DO NOT throw away the container the noodles came in.  I cut through the whole stack of noodles and dividing paper sheets with a big pair of kitchen scissors, hence how jagged and uneven they are (I tell myself it adds to the charm, smile).  You could also slice them individually and neatly with a knife.

I tried to take a lot of photos of this next step from different angles, but the water is clearly invisible in every shot.  The pasta package should tell you to soak the noodles for 2 minutes in cold water before using.  As the original pasta package is perfectly proportioned for this task, I put all of the noodles back in, fill it with cold water and leave it while I prepare the baking dish in the next step.  If you look closely, you may be able to see the corner of the left paper sheet is peaking out of the water.

Remember the 1/3 can of crushed tomatoes we reserved above?  Use a few big spoonfuls of it to coat the bottom of your baking dish so the noodles don’t stick to the dish, but don’t use it all!  We also need it to top the cannelloni a few steps down.

Now get ready for the fun part!  You might want to get set up comfortably, with your noodles on one side of your stuffing sauce and your prepared baking dish on the other.

First, drain the water from the noodles that have been soaking for two minutes now.

Grab a noodle in your weak hand, hold it in a U and scoop a generous spoonful of sauce into the noodle.  This isn’t a taco where too much stuffing can cause bursting, feel free to fill as full as your heart contents.

Use your thumb to drop one side of the pasta U onto the sauce filling, then use your fingers to wrap the other side over the edge of the first one.  Tada, you have a perfect Cannelloni!  How fun and easy was that?

As you are laying the Cannelloni into your baking dish, twist your hand so your palm is down and your pasta ends up seam side down.

You should end up with 12 Cannelloni which fit snugly in the pan in two columns of 6.  It will likely be a tight fit, possibly a very tight fit.

If you have any stuffing sauce remaining, just throw it on top of the noodles, then top with the last of the reserved crushed tomatoes.  Be very careful to ensure the sauce covers every noodle surface.

The Cannelloni is done at this point, but I find a little bit of grated cheese on top just makes it look better.  Bake at  375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

I generally do 35 minutes and then a few minutes on broil to get the cheese nice and golden.

Let sit for a few minutes and then serve.  I think it is absolutely amazing that you only need to cook this for 35 minutes because of the use of fresh pasta.  Fresh noodles are also superior to dry because they almost melt in your mouth as opposed to needing chewing.  I wish I could afford them for every pasta dish, but I’ve decided Cannelloni is the place to use them while I can only afford them for one.

What is your favorite Cannelloni stuffing sauce?  Jump up.


From → Mains

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