Friday, January 30, 2009

Spinach Cannelloni

For Christmas, Joey got me Personal Trainer Cooking for the Nintendo DS. It is a program that gives step by step cooking instructions and over 250 recipes from around the world for aspiring chefs. The dinner for Katie was our first chance to try it out, and it was a positive experience. We had to turn off the voice activation though because of the noise in the kitchen the man would constantly jump ahead.

A couple of weeks ago Katie came over for dinner and Joey and I decided to make something special (using the game). Unfortunately, due to work complications, we started a little bit late so it took a little bit long. In fact it took really long. We anticipated that dinner would be ready a lot earlier. Even our appetizer took longer than expected (be ready for another post!).

We made Spinach Cannelloni for Katie. Cannelloni and Manicotti are similar dishes and I had recently made a failed manicotti so I was really worried about the cannelloni. This recipe also called for ham and I am well aware of Katie's loathing of the pork product, so we omitted that and instead added some Italian sausage to flavor up the recipe.

As it turned out, the dish was really flavorful. The cheese sauce didn't thicken. The pasta didn't cook all the way...but the flavors were all there. Katie loved it and Joey and I would try it again IF we par-boiled the pasta. I'll share with you the recipe, but you won't enjoy all the helpful tips from the Nintendo chef.

Spinach Cannelloni

11 oz ground beef
4 slices of ham (or 2 mild Italian sausages, casing removed)
11oz spinach
1 beaten egg
4 T flour
1/4 c butter
3 1/3 cus milk
1 clove garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary (I uesd mostly dried)
4 T white wine
4 T Parmesan cheese
2 T olive oil
12 cannelloni tubes
salt and pepper

1. Boil water for spinach. While boiling wash the spinach carefully. Add spinach to boiling water until it wilts. Remove spinach and put into a bowl of cold water. Once the spinach has cooled squeeze out the excess water. Set aside.
1A. Using the same water (or new if you insist), boil water anxd then add cannelloni noodles and cook for half the time listed on the box.
2. Finely chop the ham (or sausage). Finely chop the garlic.
3. Put the spinach into a mini food processer and pulse until it forms a paste.
4. Preheat the oven to 350
5. Put 2 T oil in a frying pan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add the rosemary and saute.
6. Add the ground beef and brown breaking up--be sure to break it up well.
7. Add wine and boil briefly. Add salt and pepper to taste and turn off the heat.
8. Transfer beef to a mixing bowl and allow to cool. Remove rosemary and discard. Add 2/3 of the spinach paste, the ham (sausages), egg, and 4 T of Parmesan cheese. Mix well.
9. Fill a pastry bag (or a zip top plastic bag--and cut off the tip) with the filling mix.
10. Use the pastry bag to fill the cannelloni and lay them in a greased 9x13 baking dish. You may need more than 1 baking dish.
11. In a saucepan over medium heat melt the butter.
12. Add flour and cook until smooth - don't burn the flour!
13. Slowly pour in the milk and stir until smooth. Add the remaining spinach and salt and pepper and stir. (I imagine the sauce should thicken sometime soon, but it didn't for us).
14. Pour the sauce over the the cannelloni. Grate Parmesan on top. Bake in the ove for 20 minutes or until pasta is soft.


Nadine said...

Looks delicious. And, it is nice to live and learn. But this sounds like a dish you could partially prepare ahead of time (the filling) so it can be put together quickly at dinner time. For the white sauce, I think the mixture needs to come to a boil to reach its full thickening power.

Carrie said...

Oh Interesting, I thought it shouldn't boil because then the milk would get all weird...