Nonnie's Cannelloni Toscana - Makes 16 Cannelloni

Our family tradition for the Christmas Eve meal is cannelloni.  This Italian creation first came to our table in the 1960’s from my mother, Nonnie. After two full days of hand chopping and grinding the vegetables and meats, rolling the pasta by hand and simmering the sauces to complete the task, she was exhausted but exhilarated with the composition. It was well worth the labor; however, I much prefer preparation in the 21st century using a food processor as it can all be accomplished in a short period of time and up to one month in advance. So, get your cooking done before the holiday rush, then simply defrost this  “frozen asset “ and embellish it with your freshly made accompaniments.

Meat
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless pork shoulder or loin end, cubed
3 large chicken thighs, boneless, skinless, trimmed of any fat then cubed
¼ -½ cup chicken broth, if more moisture is needed
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
½ cup parsley, minced

  • Bring olive oil to a sizzle over high heat in a nonstick skillet.
  • Add onion and the sauté until translucent.
  • Add pork and chicken and continue cooking over medium heat until well browned, for about 8 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, nutmeg and parsley, then cover and simmer for 7 more minutes.
  • Add broth ¼ cup at a time, only if needed for moisture. The browner the meat without becoming blackened, the richer the flavor.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Filling
2 ounces of a prosciutto slab, cubed
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 ¼ cups ricotta cheese
¾ teaspoon salt or to taste

  • Place cooled meat in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  • Add cubed prosciutto and process the two until well blended.
  • Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Blend in the eggs, Parmesan and ricotta cheeses.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • ​​Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble.

Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup parsley, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 large carrot (about 1 cup), coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 can (1 lb-12 oz) Italian style tomatoes with basil
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon salt

  • Heat olive oil in a 4-quart stockpot over high heat. Add the onions, carrots, parsley and red bell pepper then sauté until the carrot is softened.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, and then add the tomatoes with the juices. Break up the tomatoes with your hands as they fall into the sautéed vegetables.
  • Add the broth and basil.
  • Bring to a rapid boil, lower heat to medium, cover, then stir 2-3 times during the 10 minutes of simmering.
  • Add ½ teaspoon salt or to taste.
  • Cool, purée the sauce in the blender or food processor and set aside.

Béchamel Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
3 tablespoons Wondra flour
¾ -1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk or use cream and add no flour
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • Heat butter in a saucepan.
  • Sauté onion until translucent.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and blend in the flour.
  • Place back on the burner over medium heat until bubbly.
  • Add ½ cup broth gradually and stir.
  • Add the milk gradually and whisk.
  • Sprinkle with nutmeg.
  • Turn off the heat and cool.
  • Purée the sauce in the blender or food processor.
  • Combine this sauce with the tomato sauce.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble in baking dishes.

Assembly of Cannelloni
Serving size is two for a main course and one for an appetizer.
2   9” x 13” Pyrex pans or ceramic baking dishes
1 package 6” x 6” square egg roll wrappers
4 cups shredded Jack cheese or fontina cheese or 36 slices of soft mozzarella
8 tablespoons Parmesan, shredded

  • Line the bottom of the baking dish with 1½ cups tomato/béchamel sauce.
  • Cut the stack of egg roll wrappers on the right side to measure 5- 5 ¼ inches.
  • Place ¼ cup meat filling onto the center of each wonton wrapper. Spread into the shape of a 4-inch sausage to fit the egg roll, leaving about ½ inch on each end.
  • Fold the wrapper twice tightly to enclose the meat mixture.
  • Place the cannelloni in the pan seam-side down, slightly apart from each other.
  • Ladle 2 cups sauce over the top of each pan of the cannelloni.
  • Cover the entire surface of the dish with the Jack or soft mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to heat and serve.

To Serve

  • Bring the cannelloni to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Bake covered in the oven for 12-15 minutes, remove the cover and continue baking until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is completely melted.

Frozen Asset:

  • Assemble the cannelloni, place seam-side down on a baking sheet, flash freeze, then seal in a zip bag.
  • Freeze the sauce separately.

To Serve after Freezing

  • Defrost the sauce and warm on the stove top.
  • Defrost the cannelloni on a baking sheet so they are not touching one another.
  • Line the bottom of the baking dish with the sauce.
  • Set the cannelloni seam-side down and place slightly apart from each other in the pan.
  • Ladle the remaining sauce over the top of the cannelloni.
  • Cover the entire surface of the dish with the cheese.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  • Bake uncovered in the oven for 12-15 minutes, remove cover and continue baking until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is completely melted.

The TOM & NANCY HARVEY Team
Lyon Real Estate
www.TomandNancyHarvey.com   916 599-3018  
© 2008 Nancy Dowd Harvey All Rights Reserve

Grilled V    

 

G             Grilled Vegetable Pesto Lasagne Serves 12

Created for a wedding shower for a vegetarian bride, serve as a main dish for a brunch, lunch, buffet dinner or as an accompaniment to sliced tenderloin of beef, pot roast or Parmesan chicken breasts.

Grilled Vegetables
2 pounds eggplant, unpeeled and sliced in ¼-inch rings
2 pounds yellow or green zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch strips
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1-1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • Lop off the ends of the vegetables and slice as directed above.
  • Heat gas grill or grill pan to high.
  • Brush the grill with olive oil.
  • Grill the pared vegetables on both sides until softened and grill marks are visible. 1-3 minutes per side.
  • Place in a bowl, douse with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and salt.
  • Combine well and allow to marinate for several hours or overnight.

Marinara Sauce
40 ounces of your favorite tomato and basil marinara sauce
¼ cup dry red wine

  • Stir together.

Lasagne
1 package oven-ready lasagne noodles
Grilled vegetables
2½ cups ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2½-3 cups basil pesto, prepared
Marinara sauce
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese or 2 cups grated mozzarella and 12 slices of a
16-oz fresh mozzarella log sliced into ¼ inch rings (lined in 3 rows of 4 slices )
1/3 cup basil chiffonade
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

  • Line the bottom of a 9 x 13 lasagne pan with 1 cup marinara sauce.
  • Add a layer of oven-ready noodles.
  • Line the noodle layer with the grilled eggplant, slightly overlapping.
  • Spread the ricotta cheese over the eggplant.
  • Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Place the next layer of lasagne noodles over the ricotta cheese.
  • Line the noodles with the grilled zucchini.
  • Spread the pesto over the squash.
  • Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Place the final layer of lasagne noodles on the pesto 
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the noodles.
  • Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, basil chiffonade and toasted pine nuts.
  • Cover top with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake and serve.
  • Bring to room temperature for one hour, then bake tented with foil at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until bubbly throughout.
  • Remove foil for last 10 minutes, if needed, to lightly toast the cheese.
  • Remove from oven; allow to rest for 10-15 minutes, then cut into serving sizes.

Frozen Asset

  • Wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil.
  • Freeze for up to 30 days.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bring to room temperature for one hour before baking.
  • Bake as directed above.

The TOM & NANCY HARVEY Team
Lyon Real Estate
www.TomandNancyHarvey.com   916 599-3018  
© 2008 Nancy Dowd Harvey All Rights Reserve

Grilled V    

 

Grilled Eggplant Napolean - Serves 8

Tomato Sauce
½ cup extra virgin olive oil       
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups of chopped yellow onion
1½ cups chopped carrots
2 large cans (28 oz.) Italian Roma tomatoes in juice
¼ cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons double-strength tomato paste
Salt and pepper 
½ cup basil Chiffonade

  • Pulse the onions and the carrots in the food. The vegetables will not become too finely minced or soggy.      
  • Heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic and carrots on high heat until golden brown.
  • Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to the mixture.
  • Stir in the red wine, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer 20-30 minutes or until reduced by on third.
  • Add the tomato paste and basil then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pulse the sauce in the food processor If you prefer a smoother consistency.

Ricotta-Goat Cheese Filling
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup goat cheese
1/3 cup basil pesto (See recipe in Spring Has Sprung)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon salt

  • Combine all ingredients in bowl.

Eggplant
1-2 eggplants about 4 inches in diameter at the widest part and 7-8 inches long
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt to taste

  • Slice the unpeeled eggplant ¼ inch crosswise to make 16 circles.
  • Sear the eggplant circles over high heat on the grill about 2-3 minutes per side without oil.
  • Remove it to an ovenproof baking dish and sprinkle it with the olive oil, Parmesan and sea salt then allow it to cool.

To Assemble
3 tablespoons basil pesto
1 tablespoon shredded mozzarella cheese

  • Spread one tablespoon of ricotta-goat cheese mixture over the top of 8 of the eggplant slices with the Parmesan cheese-side up.
  • Spread approximately 1 teaspoon of the basil pesto over the ricotta-goat cheese mixture on each eggplant round.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese over each eggplant round. Top with the remaining eggplant rounds with the Parmesan cheese sides down.
  • Sprinkle each Napoleon with 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake in 350-degree oven for 10 minutes or until all cheeses are bubbly and melted.
  • Reheat the tomato sauce on the stovetop while the eggplant is in the oven

To Serve

  • Ladle 1/4 cup of warmed tomato sauce in a neat circle on each plate and place a Napoleon of eggplant in the center.
  • Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil

Quick

  • Use a prepared tomato basil sauce.

Quintessential
4 cups field greens and Mâche
Balsamic syrup
20 yellow pear tomatoes, halved

  • Make the Eggplant Napoleon into an appetizer or salad course.
  • Prepare the Napoleon as directed.
  • Place on top of the Napoleon about ½ cup of mixed greens and drizzle with Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic syrup. Dot the circumference of the plate with 5 yellow pear tomato halves, the smallest tip pointing outwards.

The TOM & NANCY HARVEY Team
​Lyon Real Estate
www.TomandNancyHarvey.com   916 599-3018  
© 2008 Nancy Dowd Harvey All Rights Reserve

 

Roasted Squash Spaghetti - Serves 4

For a satisfying, low-carb, weeknight “spaghetti,” combine the squash with this robust tomato sauce and toss with freshly grated Parmesan.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash
1 spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil                                               
Salt and pepper

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a sharp-edged spoon and season with the olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Place flesh-side up on a baking sheet with rims, cover the squash with foil and bake in a 450-degree for 40-50 minutes, or until fork- tender.
  • Allow to cool, then scrape the squash out of the hard shell with a dinner fork to attain the spaghetti-like texture.
  • Adjust salt and pepper.

Tomato Sauce
½ cup extra virgin olive oil       
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
1½ cups chopped carrots
2  28-oz cans Italian Roma tomatoes in juice
¼ cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons double-strength tomato paste
Salt and pepper 
½ cup basil chiffonade

  • Pulse the onions and the carrots in the food processor.
  • Heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic and carrots on high heat until golden brown.
  • Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add to the mixture.
  • Add the red wine and salt.
  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until reduced by 1/3.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook for another 5 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add the basil leaves and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. For a smoother consistency, pulse the sauce in the food processor.

To Serve
Per each serving:
1 to 1½ cups spaghetti squash
Tomato sauce, to taste
1-2 oz Parmesan, Asiago or Romano cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon basil, chiffonade

  • Arrange spaghetti squash in a warmed soup plate or pasta bowl.
  • Ladle desired amount of sauce over the squash.
  • Shred cheese over the top of the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with minced parsley.
  • Serve.

The TOM & NANCY HARVEY Team
​Lyon Real Estate
www.TomandNancyHarvey.com   916 599-3018  
© 2008 Nancy Dowd Harvey All Rights Reserve