Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fresh Cannelloni filled with Broccoli and Ricotta

I'm on this kick of keeping it cheap in the meal planning area, so I thought I should try to focus on cheap and easy pastas (maybe even work through my Pasta cookbook). Although pasta is cheap and is thought of as a dried pasta, boiled when needed, I thought it would be fun for me to try to do pasta dough from scratch. It's still cheap, a lot more work, but really worth it.

I don't have all of the pretty frilly pasta cutters, so I did a pasta with straight edges, hidden edges in fact. A good place to start, where I could get the feel for working with pasta dough. The cannelloni itself is filled with a broccoli mixture, where your veggies come into play, set atop a simple home made tomato sauce.

Fresh Pasta, Cannelloni filled with Broccoli and Ricotta
Time: 2 hrs Serves: 5 (or divide into two baking dishes, one for now, one for later, saved in the freezer. Serves 3 each time.)
Adapted from Pasta, contributing editor Jeni Wright

Cook's Notes: Pasta recommends using very fine white flour, for a silky finished product. I used Trader Joe's White Whole Wheat flour because that's what I had on hand. I added warm water to the dough, and the texture was noticeable, as opposed to silky. I have acquired a taste for (and love for) whole wheat now in my breads and other goods, so adjust to your own preferences.
I used half of the pasta dough to create my meal. When I placed the dinner in the oven, I worked on the second half of the pasta dough, filled them and placed them dry in another baking dish. In the second dish, I tightly sealed it and put it in the freezer for another future meal where I'll just need to add tomato sauce and cheese.

Fresh Pasta Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups flour
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water if using white whole wheat flour

Pasta Process: 
1) Make a mound with the flour on a clean work surface, using the back of a cup make a well in the mound of flour.

2) Crack the eggs directly into the well of the flour. Add salt.

3) Using a fork, gently blend the eggs with the flour until dough begins to form. Cautiously work into the walls so as to not let the liquid run out on to the work surface.

4) Once flour is moist, begin to mix with hands. If needed add warm water a little at a time and continue to knead dough until smooth. Knead for at least 10 minutes. The more you knead at this point, the more smooth your pasta will be.

5) Form into a uniform ball, and let rest for about 10 minutes.

6) Divide ball of dough into two sections, cutting with a knife. Working with one section, roll out dough, rotating as you go. Try to create a uniform thickness, as thin as you can, to create a pasta bite that isn't too thick or gummy.

7) Cut the dough into rectangles about 4"x6", or approximate sizes to match. Lay pasta shapes on a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with flour.

8) Boil water with plenty of salt and a drop of olive oil. Boil pasta shapes for about 2 or 3 minutes each, boiling 3 at a time or to not crowd your pot. Remove finished pasta with a mesh skimmer.

Cannelloni Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1, 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes (I used Trader Joe's with basil)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme

Filling and Assembly:
12 Cannelloni tubes, or prepared fresh cannelloni as above
4 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
2/3 cups milk
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
pinch of ground nutmeg
6 tbsp parmesan, grated
salt, pepper, to taste
2 tbsp pine nuts

Sauce Process:
1) Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened.

2) Add garlic. Cook for one or two minutes.

3) Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and thyme. Let sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. Break apart stewed tomatoes gently. Set aside.

Filling and Assembly Process:
1) Preheat oven to 375ºF. Boil the broccoli florets for 10 minutes. Drain, place in food processor and process until smooth. Set aside.

2) Place bread crumbs, milk, and olive oil in a bowl and stir until bread crumbs are moistened. Add ricotta, broccoli puree, nutmeg, 4 tbsp of parmesan, salt and pepper, and stir until well blended.

3) Pour the prepared tomato sauce into a baking dish.

4) Spoon the broccoli mixture into a piping bag with tip attached. Pipe two or three rows of filling on one end of cannelloni pasta square. Roll up into a tube and set on top of tomato sauce. Repeat until dish is full. Sprinkle with parmesan, and sprinkle with pine nuts.

5) Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Enjoy!

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