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X Italian Pasta Dishes
Cannelloni with Ricotta
Originated from: Casacalenda, Molise, Italy
Occasion: Special times
Contributed by: Mary Melfi (her mother's recipe)

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For recipe for egg pasta see "Traditional Italian Pastas")

2 quarts or more of home-made tomato sauce -- 1 quart for baking the cannelloni in, and 1 quart for garnishing the cannelloni after they have been baked

For filling:

2 containers of ricotta
1 bag of spinach
1 package of mozzarella (about 3/4 of a pound)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup homemade (or plain) breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper


Parboil spinach. Drain. And cut.

Grate mozzarella.

Beat eggs.

Combine ricotta, spinach, grated mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper.

Lay the homemade pasta noodles that have been cooked in boiling water on a flat surface on a clean linen or cotton cloth.

For each pasta noodle take two or three tablespoons of stuffing and squeeze it between your palm so that it looks like a thin log. Place the stuffing neatly on one end of each pasta noodle, making sure that there is at least half an inch on both sides of the noodle that is empty (You don't want the stuffing to leak out). Then roll up the pasta noodle. Set aside.

Place half a cup or so of tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.

Place the cannelloni rolls seam-side down in the baking dish with the tomato sauce, making sure there is ample space between the cannelloni so that it will be easy to remove them after they are baked (Generally, one baking dish is not enough.).

Pour some more sauce over the cannelloni. Cover (or use aluminum foil) and bake in a 350 degree oven for about three quarters of an hour or so.

After the cannelloni have been baked, some of the tomato sauce will have become too thick for it to look presentable on a dish. So it's best to have some fresh tomato sauce reserved and use this sauce to prepare the individual plates on which the cannelloni will be served.

Garnish with parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.


Photo: Mary Melfi.

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