Veal, Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Cannelloni

TOTAL TIME: 2 hr 20 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive Prep: 10 min
Cook: 1 hr 40 min
 
YIELD: 6 to 8 servings; 12 cannelloni
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 pound sweet sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes and their juices
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cooked and well drained spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 12 (5-inch squares) fresh pasta sheets
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish, optional
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      Directions

      Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ground veal, pork and sweet sausage and cook until well-browned about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Add the crushed red pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the red wine and crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the chopped parsley, and cool slightly.

      Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.

      Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the milk and whisk to combine well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, and cook for 5 minutes, until very thick and the floury taste is gone. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, and the nutmeg. Remove from the heat and press plastic wrap onto the surface of the sauce so that a skin will not form; reserve.

      In a large bowl combine the slightly cooled meat mixture, spinach, ricotta, and 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, to taste.

      Arrange noodles flat on a clean work surface. Spoon 1/3 cup of the filling down the center of each square and roll to enclose the filling. Place the cannelloni, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining filling and pasta squares. Pour the reserved bechamel sauce over the cannelloni, making sure to cover the pasta completely. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Bake until heated through and golden and the sauce is bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes.

      Cool cannelloni for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

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