Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Home-made Lentil Cannelloni

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Vegetarian Cannelloni
Adapted from The Italian Kitchen

Caution: There were lots of people milling about and some of us were playing with the baby, so I’m not 100% sure of the actual amounts for each of the ingredients. Especially since we ended up making a second large dish. We did need to make a second batch of Bechamel.

Hands on time: 2 hours
Baking time: 40 minutes (or until bubbly around the edges and the cheese is golden and melted on top)
Rest time: 5 minutes

Serves 8 (we had to use 2 large oven-proof pans)

3 cups semolina flour
4 eggs + 2 yolks (next time, we’ll probably go back to all purpose flour or half & half…you don’t need as many eggs and the pasta is easier to work with)
Pinch of salt
All purpose flour to dust the table top so the pasta won’t stick

1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, coarsely grated
1 cup fennel root, finely chopped
2/3 cup vegetable broth (we didn’t have any so we just used water)
4 oz/ 115g red lentils (green would be fine too)
19 oz/ 796 ml canned tomatoes ( I used San Marzano)
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (dried would work too)
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (we didn’t have any, so dried did just fine)
Salt & pepper to taste
2 cups cottage cheese, drained (next time around I'll use ricotta)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Sauce: (enough for 1 large lasagna pan)
2 tbsp butter or margarine
2 tbsp flour
1 bay leaf
Pinch of grated nutmeg

2 cups or so grated cheddar cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup bread crumbs (I like Panko, Japanese breadcrumbs because they make the topping crispy)


In a large pot, over medium heat, combine the chopped onion, garlic, carrots, fennel and ½ the broth or water. Cook for 5 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Add the rest of the filling ingredients, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so.

2. Remove the lid and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to hold its shape. Let it cool before adding the cottage and feta cheeses (just before making the cannelloni).

In a large bowl, make a well of the flour and break the eggs in the center. Incorporate the eggs into the flour, mixing with your hands (at least, that’s what we did, but a fork would work too) until it sticks together.

2. Knead for about 5 minutes, separate into 3 balls, cover with a damp cloth or loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes or so. (I don’t really remember how long we left it, to tell the truth…but not very long)

3. Flatten the first ball and pass it through the pasta maker as directed. Let the sheets dry for …. Honestly, we didn’t wait very long. We just laid them on a lightly floured table and when we were done preparing the pasta, we started to assemble the cannelloni starting with the ones we prepared first.

Bechamel Sauce:

Melt the butter in a medium sized pot, add the flour and milk and whisk over medium heat until thick and smooth. Season with nutmeg, salt & pepper and remove the bay leaf.

Making the Cannelloni:
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C

2. Spread a large spoonful of filling across the width of the pasta sheet about 2” from the edge.

Moisten across the sheet just beside where the filling ends and roll the dough over the filling and just beyond the moist area. Use a sharp knife and cut.

3. Continue this process until all the filling (and or pasta) is used up. We had extra filling that we pureed for the baby (he loved it!) and extra sheets of pasta that I separated with parchment paper, wrapped in freezer proof plastic wrap and froze for another day).

4. In a large oven proof lasagna pan (we had to use 2 to fit enough for 6 people, serving 4/person) spread half the béchamel sauce evenly over the bottom. Lay the cannelloni seam side down. Ours were quite tightly squished together.

Add the rest of the béchamel. We actually had to make more béchamel for the second pan.

5. In a bowl, combine the cheddar, parmesan and breadcrumbs and mix well. Sprinkle over the cannelloni.

Bake for 40-60 minutes. It’s ready when the sauce bubbles around the edges and the top layer of cheese is melted and golden.

7. Remove from the oven and let it rest, uncovered on the counter/table for 5 minutes. This will let the dish “set” and still be hot.

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