Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spinach & Mushroom Cannelloni

I enjoy the show Eat Shrink and Be Merry, where the two sisters and hosts Greta and Janet are challenged to make a healthy version of a high caloric dish. On the episode I saw, they were taking on full fat cannelloni. I followed their roasted vegetable sauce and improvised a bit more on the filling.

Spinach & Mushroom Cannelloni

Spinach & Mushroom Cannelloni
Adapted from Eat Shrink and Be Merry.

For the Roasted Vegetable Tomato Sauce
* 2 pounds small vine-ripened tomatoes
* 1 small fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
* 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
* 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
* 4 cloves garlic, halved
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 can crushed tomatoes (19oz/540 ml)
* 2 cups vegetable broth
* 1-½ tsp dried Italian seasoning
* ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
* 8 whole basil leaves (medium sized), chopped

Halve or quarter the tomatoes, depending on their size.
Place tomatoes, fennel, onions, red pepper, and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with some salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Mix well using your hands.
Roast vegetables at 450 degrees F for 45 minutes on middle oven rack. (I think I may have turned the temperature down a bit.)
Remove vegetables from oven and let cool slightly.
Remove and discard any loose tomato skins.
Transfer vegetables to a large pot.
Add crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Simmer sauce over low heat, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Purée sauce using immersion blender (or carefully transfer to a food processor or regular blender to purée).
Stir in basil leaves.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Tomatoes Veg Ready to Roast
Roasted Veg Cooking the roasted tomato sauce
Making the roasted tomato sauce.

For the Filling
This is where I improvised and added mushrooms! You could really add anything you want! I didn't have cottage cheese so skipped that. Also, I would have used the recommended ready-prepared lasagna sheets, but I couldn't find them so I just bought cannelloni shells

* oil
* ¼ onion, diced
* 2 handful mushrooms, chopped roughly
* ½ package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry and finely chopped
* ¼ tsp dried oregano
* ¼ tsp dried basil
* ⅛ tsp salt, or to taste
* ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
* pinch nutmeg
* 2 cups part-skim (5%) ricotta cheese
* 12 cannelloni shells
* mozzarella cheese, grated

Sauté the onions and mushroom in a bit of oil until mushrooms are cooked.
Season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
Mix in the spinach and ricotta.
Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
Coat bottom of baking pan with sauce (about 1 cup should do it).
With a spoon, stuff uncooked cannelloni shells with stuffing. (It involved a bit of pushing.)
Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees F.
Cover cannelloni with sauce (you will not use all of the sauce; freeze the leftover sauce to use for a busy weeknight pasta dish!).
Sprinkle with mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Mushroom and Spinach Stuffing the cannoli
Cannoli in Sauce Top with cheese
Preparing the cannelloni's.

I really liked that the sauce had more vegetables than tomatoes. While I did enjoy the sauce (and have leftover sauce in the freezer), I'm not sure it was all the effort. I suspect it'd be just as good with a simpler, less demanding sauce. Otherwise, I really liked the addition of mushrooms; it really added another dimension!

For other vegetarian pasta recipes:
* Eggplant Parmesan
* Eggplant Rollatini
* Lentil-Ricotta "Meatballs"
* Mushroom Ravioli
* Pea Ravioli
* Pesto Goat Cheesy Pasta
* Pumpkin Ravioli
* Roasted Vegetable Lasagna Rolls
* Spinach Stuffed Pasta Shells
* Truffle Macaroni & Cheese

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