CLASSIC pasta beef and mushroom filling for cannelloni








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Here is a hearty and totally satisfying filling for your cannelloni presentation. It can go either way: white with béchamel or red with tomato.

This recipe will provide enough filling for about 14 - 16 cannelloni. In our parameters, we fill a 6 x 10 inch baking dish with about seven cannelloni. So this recipe would do two baking dishes. (Obviously halve it for one baking dish).

for the filling:

  • two cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • four tablespoons butter
  • one medium onion chopped fine
  • one pound ground beef
  • six ounces fresh mushrooms
  • one egg
  • two tablespoons chopped parsley
  • one sprig fresh thyme
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • one quarter cup freshly grated parmesan plus two tablespoons
  • one cup fresh ricotta


  • béchamel sauce

Chop the mushrooms into tiny squares.

Prepare the béchamel. Do not let the béchamel get too thick. You will want to coat the bottom of the baking dish with it, so it should run fairly smoothly to accomplish this.

Put the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the garlic, cook for twenty seconds. Add the onion until it gets pale. Add the beef and the mushrooms and sauté all until the beef is brown. Add the nutmeg, and a teaspoon of salt and a grinding of fresh pepper. Set aside.

Briskly stir the egg in a bowl, and then whisk in the parsley. Add a tablespoon of the béchamel sauce to the mixture in the bowl. Then add the egg and chopped parsley mixture to the beef/mushroom mixture and stir. Add the ricotta and stir again. Then add the quarter cup of parmesan. Stir all of this together in the bowl until it is very well mixed. The filling is now ready.

See how to make cannelloni. Butter the bottom of the dish well, add three tablespoons béchamel. Put two to three tablespoons of the filling in each square 5" x 5" wrapper of pasta. Roll up. (We use the sort of jelly-roll roll. The filling spread along the bottom half of the pasta, and then rolled up like a jelly roll. At the end of this roll, stuff whatever filling is oozing out, back into the roll. It generally seals up well.) Put in baking dish seamed side down.

Do all the cannelloni you need to do to fill the baking dish or dishes. Cover the cannelloni with at least three more tablespoons of béchamel, plus a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan.

Cover loosely with foil, and bake at 375 degrees for twenty minutes. At the end of that time, you can use as is, or: we remove the cove, put another couple of tablespoons of parmesan over the top of the cannelloni, and put it under the broiler for two minutes, until there is a touch of brown on top.

Presentation: we like to put the cannelloni on the warmed plate ready for serving, then spooning a tablespoon or two more of the béchamel over the top and along the sides; and finally topping with a sprig of parsley.

>>>tomato sauce option: rather than using béchamel in this recipe, you might want to keep the flavors more robust and use a tomato sauce.

If so, make a serving of tomato sauce. See tomato sauces.

In making the filling, instead of the one tablespoon of béchamel, add one tablespoon heavy cream.

When putting the cannelloni in the baking dish, first coat the bottom with at least three tablespoons of the tomato sauce. Put in the cannelloni. Add three more tablespoons, at least, of tomato sauce on top. Add the parmesan. Bake as above.





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