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(Pasta Tube filled with meat and baked in tomato and cream sauce.) Serves 8.

Manicotti noodles from the supermarket may be used instead of homemade pasta tubes. The following recipe is enough for 1 box of manicotti noodles cooked per package direction.


2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen, chopped spinach, defrosted, squeezed completely dry, then chopped again
2 tbsp. butter
1 lb. ground round steak
2 chicken livers (optional)
5 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a heavy skillet; add onion and garlic. Cook over moderate heat until they are soft but not brown. Stir in the spinach and cook until moisture has boiled away and the spinach sticks lightly to the pan. Transfer spinach to a large bowl. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the same skillet and lightly brown ground beef. Stir and break up any lumps. Add meat to onion and spinach. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and cook the chicken livers for 3 or 4 minutes until they are lightly browned. Chop them coarsely and add to the mixture in the bowl. (Optional). Add the 5 tablespoons Parmesan, 2 tablespoons cream, 2 eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Mix all together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

SALSA DIPOMODORI (tomato sauce) :
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 c. Italian plum or whole pack tomatoes, coarsely chopped but not drained
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In an enameled or stainless steel saucepan, heat olive oil. Add onions and cook until soft but not browned. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, sugar, salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for about 40 minutes. Press the sauce through a fine sieve or a food mill into a bowl. Reserve. You need 3 cups of this sauce for the Cannelloni. Make the cream sauce while the tomato sauce is cooking.

BESCIAMELLA (cream sauce) :
6 tbsp. butter
6 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter over moderate heat. Add 6 tablespoons of flour and cook the roux, stirring constantly with a whisk. Pour in milk and cream slowly stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook until sauce is thick enough to coat the wires of the whisk heavily. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper. Reserve.

To assemble and bake Cannelloni: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour just a film of tomato sauce into 2 (10 x 14 inch) baking and serving dishes. Fill the cooked manicotti noodles with the spinach-meat mixture. Lay side by side in one layer on the tomato sauce. Spoon cream sauce over it, then spoon the rest of the tomato sauce on top. Scatter over 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese; dot with 2 tablespoons butter cut in tiny pieces. Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.

Cannelloni can be made as much as 2 days ahead of time, covered with plastic or foil and refrigerated.

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