Cannelloni Del Nonno, Filled with Arugula, Spinach and Ricotta, Recipe from Pasta Italiana

Since i gave you first a taste of the sweet side of Pasta Italiana (Kyle Books USA, January 2012) with Mezzelune Dolci, let's look at savory side this time.

Cannelloni del nonno, Cannelloni filled with arugula, spinach, and ricotta cheese

A great baked pasta dish that has been in my family for over twenty years. If you prefer, you can substitute the Pecorino cheese with Parmesan.

Serves 6 to 8

Scant 3 cups strained tomatoes
15 fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
14 ounces fresh egg pasta dough, see page 19

For the filling

2 cups ricotta cheese
51/2 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed to remove the excess water
51/2 ounces arugula, chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese

For the béchamel sauce

7 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 quart cold whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Cannelloni del nonno


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 Pour the strained tomatoes into a large bowl with the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper, mix together, and set aside.

3 To prepare the béchamel sauce, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook until it turns light brown in color, 1 minute. Gradually beat in the cold milk, reduce the heat, and cook for 10 minutes, beating continuously. Once thickened, stir in the nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly.

4 To prepare the filling, in a large bowl, place all the ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and use a fork to mix everything together. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the pasta.

5 Flatten the prepared dough with your fingers so that it can fit through the rollers of the pasta machine. Flour the pasta lightly on both sides and start to roll it from the widest setting to the thinnest. Cut it into rectangles measuring 23/4 x 6 inches—you will need 26 sheets.

6 Prepare a large pot with plenty of boiling salted water and start to cook the pasta sheets—work in batches of five. Boil the sheets for 1 minute, then remove and place immediately in a large bowl of cold water to prevent the pasta from going soggy. After 1 minute in the cold water, remove the sheets and place on a clean dish towel.

7 Place 11/2 tablespoons of filling across each pasta sheet and start to roll up the pasta from the narrow side working forward. To seal the cannelloni, overlap the pasta sheet by about 3/4 inch. Repeat until all the pasta sheets are filled.

8 Select a rectangular baking dish measuring 10 x 14 inches and pour in a third of the béchamel sauce. Spread evenly.Place half the cannelloni onto the béchamel layer with the seam facing down. Spoon over half the strained tomatoes and half the remaining béchamel sauce.

9 Build up the second layer of cannelloni and spoon over the remaining strained tomatoes. Spread over the remaining béchamel sauce. Finish by sprinkling over the Pecorino cheese and bake in the center of the oven for 35 minutes or until colored and crispy.

10 Once ready, let rest for 5 minutes out of the oven; it will be easier to cut and serve, as the layers will hold together.

(** Recipe from Pasta Italiana by Gino D'Acampo, published by Kyle Books in January 2012, photography by Kate Whitaker, all rights reserved)

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