Usually when I ask J what he wants for dinner he grins at me and proclaims “pasta”, but I live in fear of those days when he desires cannelloni. In the near-decade we have been together he has requested this stuffed pasta favorite numerous times. He has been denied again and again. Cannelloni always seemed to me, to be a fussy business for culinary perfectionists with excess time before their 5pm martini.
Thankfully for J, I have discovered just how easy cannelloni can be; it is all about fresh lasagna noodles. By buying fresh lasagna noodles and cutting them into squares you have easy-to-form fresh cannelloni which doesn’t take a lot of effort. Trying to squeeze the filling into tubes is for suckers and perfectionists — you will find neither here.
I am no less prey to the call of Spring than the fluffy young lambs, so the beautiful bright green vegetables like peas, asparagus, and artichokes which are appearing at the market inspired this recipe. All the green vegetables make for a bright and healthy filling. The tangy goat cheese helps bring them together but also melts out of the noodles and onto your tongue in each bite.
However to keep life easier I took shortcuts and used canned artichokes. Of course, by also purchasing the noodles and tomato sauce I ended up with a lovely and easy weeknight dinner. Did I mention J missed dinner and came home late that night? Oops. Cannelloni shall appear here again soon.
Spring Vegetable Spring Cannelloni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
1 medium zucchini
salt and pepper
6 cups packed spinach
1/2 small can artichokes packed in water, drained
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
12 4-6″ square pasta sheets
1 1/2 cups tomato or marinara sauce
1/4 cup chevre
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375F. Heat a large skillet to medium and add olive oil. Dice the onion small and add to skillet. Cut the zucchini into 1cm strips then slice into 1/2cm pieces. Add to the skillet with the onion. Cook together, stirring regularly for 3-5 minutes or until zucchini is tender but not mushy. Season with a healthy amount of salt and pepper and stir in spinach. Cook the spinach down by stirring into into the pan. Remove from heat. Chop artichokes small and stir into spinach as well as dill and vinegar. Taste and correct for seasoning.
Lay out your pasta sheets on a surface spoon ~2 tablespoons of filling into the center of each sheet and spread it out lengthwise. Dot the top of the filling with crumbled chevre. Put 2/3 of the tomato sauce in an 8×8 square baking dish. Roll up each of the sheets into a log and place seam down in your baking dish. Top with remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.[/print_this]