This recipe is an adaptation of one of the best things I have ever made and possibly one of the best things I have ever eaten. Ryan and I decided to forego the crazy Valentines Day dinner out experience and instead stayed in while I cooked a multi course meal featuring truffles. Yes, fresh black truffles. If you haven't had real truffles before they are amazing. It's hard to explain how good real black truffles are until you've had them. Foodgasm might be appropriate.
Our truffle menu included seared scallops with a thinly shaved truffle placed atop and possibly the best thing I've ever eaten, pork and veal cannelloni with truffle cream sauce. Seriously, by this time in the evening we were both so full but couldn't stop eating. So good!
Truffles are expensive and really hard to come by, so in making this dish more weeknight and budget friendly, sadly I've eliminated them. And by the way, stay away from truffle oil. Most of it is a chemical representation of what truffles should smell and taste like. Very few available options actually have truffles in them. It's more like what a scientist in a lab (who also has a hand in creating blue raspberry flavoring) thinks truffles taste like.
In lieu of the truffle cream sauce, I made a great roasted red pepper tomato sauce, and the cannelloni are baked in a cheesy mornay sauce. The cannelloni are bright and vibrant but creamy and comforting all in the same bite. This would be a great recipe to make ahead of time for a dinner party, heating up the dish as guests arrive or the first course is served.
Start the roasted red pepper sauce by roasting a fresh red pepper either over a gas burner or under a broiler. When blackened all over, place the pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam.
In a medium sauce pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil. Saute one minced shallot and one clove of minced garlic in the oil. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1 can of crushed tomatoes, preferably fire roasted if available.
Peel, seed and dice the roasted red pepper and add to the sauce. Stir in a teaspoon each of dried basil, oregano, and sugar. Bring to a simmer of medium low heat and cook 10 minutes until flavors have melded and sauce has thickened. In a food processor with the lid vented, blend sauce until smooth and return to pan, keep hot over lowest heat setting.
For the filling of the cannelloni, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Saute 1 minced shallot and 1 minced clove of garlic until softened. Add 1 pound of ground pork and cook until browned. Spoon off any grease and add 1 bag (6 oz) of chopped baby spinach, cooking until wilted. Stir in 3/4 of a cup of ricotta cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season well with salt. Cook pasta sheets according to directions and cool in a bowl of lukewarm water. Working one and a time, lay cooked pasta sheets on a damp kitchen towel and fill cannelloni sheets with 1/4 cup of filling and roll up. Place seam side down in an oiled 13x9 baking pan. Continue until all filling has been used.
In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and cook until starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk. Add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of shredded Italian blend cheese until melted. Pour mornay sauce over the prepared cannelloni.
Bake cannelloni in a 350 degree oven 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling. Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and place under broiler 2-3 minutes to melt parmesan cheese.
Serve cannelloni over a spoonful of roasted red pepper sauce, topped with fresh chopped basil and additional parmesan cheese.
Pork and Spinach Cannelloni with Roasted Red Pepper SauceBy Land of Noms, March 15, 2015
- 1 red bell pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 shallots, divided
- 2 cloves of garlic, divided
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 lb of ground pork
- 1 bag (6 oz) of baby spinach, chopped
- 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese
- Fresh pasta sheets
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1 1/2 cups of milk
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1 cup of Italian blend shredded cheese
- Fresh grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and oil a 9x13 glass baking dish
- Roast red pepper over flame until blackened, place in a dish and cover with plastic wrap
- In a medium saucepan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, saute 1 minced shallot and 1 minced clove of garlic
- Add two tablespoons of tomato paste and 1 can of crushed tomatoes
- Stir in 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, basil and sugar
- Peel and seed roasted red pepper and dice, add to sauce and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until thickened
- In a food processor or blender, puree roasted red pepper sauce with the lid vented, return to a saucepan and keep warm over lowest heat setting
- In a saute pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil, saute 1 minced shallot and 1 minced clove of garlic
- Add ground pork and cook until browned, spoon off any grease and add chopped spinach, saute until wilted, add ricotta and mix well, remove from heat
- Cook pasta sheets according to directions in salted water, remove from stock pot to a bowl of lukewarm water
- Working one at a time, lay cooked pasta sheets on a damp kitchen towel, spoon 1/4 cup of filling onto one end and roll up, placing seam side down in oiled baking pan, continue until all filling has been used
- In a medium sized saucepan, heat butter over medium heat; add flour and cook until browned, about 2 minutes
- Whisk in milk and season with nutmeg and salt and pepper
- Cook sauce of medium heat until thickened; stir in 1 cup of shredded Italian blend cheese
- Pour sauce over cannollini and top with grated parmesan cheese if desired
- Bake 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling; broil 2-3 minutes to brown cheese on top
- To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of roasted red pepper sauce in a shallow bowl, place cannelloni on top of sauce and garnish with fresh basil and fresh grated parmesan cheese if desired
Sharing our culinary adventures in Cascadia with simple, sustainable & satisfying eats. Bon Appétit!