Three-Cheese Cannelloni with Chopped Italian Salad

Vegetarian recipes
Three-Cheese Cannelloni

Cannelloni is very similar to a lasagna noodle in rolled-up form. The sauce cooks in a skillet, then cannelloni are nestled in and baked to perfection. Don’t be worried by the excess sauce.

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The oven cooked pasta soaks up all of the water, leaving nothing but saucy goodness all around. While it bakes, you’ve got plenty time to make a quick chopped Italian salad.

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How did this dish come to be?

Some people credit famed Italian chef, Nicola Federico, with the discovery of this particular Italian delicacy. It is thought that Federico created cannelloni in Naples, Italy while he was a chef for a popular Italian eatery restaurant La Favorita.

From there, it is thought to have spread to other areas of Italy as well as other countries.
But others think the cannelloni was invented in 1907 at the restaurant La Favorita better known as the ‘O Parrucchiano in Sorrento, Italy by the chef Salvatore Coletta.

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Known as cannelloni in Italy, this tasty stuffed pasta dish is known in America as manicotti. The word cannellone literally means “a big pipe” and manicotto loosely translates as “a big sleeve.”

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The best way to describe cannelloni is a type of Italian pasta with a cylindrical shape. Cannelloni is prepared from a recipe that blends together wheat flour, salt, and water. When it is formed, it is first cut into rectangular pieces that are rolled into tube-like shapes.

Cannelloni can be filled in many different ways.Typically, this pasta is between three and four inches long, and it is stuffed with a rich meat, vegetable, fish, or cheese filling that is blended with spices and/or sauce.

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If, for example, you’re using a DeLallo Manicotti product, then a pastry bag might be helpful to fill the “sleeves.” If you choose to use DeLallo Lasagna noodles instead, then place your fillings towards the edge of the pasta closest to you; then roll it gently, without pressing too hard.

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Popular Types of Fillings:

Ricotta e Spinaci (spinach):This is the most popular filling and it’s vegetarian. All you’ll need is a pound of fresh spinach—steamed or quickly boiled, then cooled in ice water; tightly squeeze the water from the spinach and finely chop. Add one pound of fresh ricotta, two egg yolks, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. For this filling I would recommend using a Tomato Basil, Béchamel, or ragù sauce.

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Fresh vegetables:

Start with one large eggplant, one green pepper, a few mushrooms, one zucchini, a couple of fresh tomatoes, a couple of small onions, four ounces of already boiled or steamed asparagus tips and a little basil leaves. Cut all ingredients into pieces that are equal in size so that they cook evenly. Heat up olive oil and begin by sautéing the onions, then add the rest of the ingredients; add pepper and salt, and cook until the veggies are tender.

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Let the mixture cool, fill the pasta, add chopped basil and two asparagus tips inside each manicotti. You can insert small pieces of a good melting cheese, such as Fontina, smoked provolone or mozzarella into the filling. The best sauce to use with this is Béchamel. Pour some on the bottom of the pan and over the manicotti—be generous with both the Béchamel and Parmigiano. Serve hot.

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Carne aka meat: A meat-based filling usually includes either ground beef, veal, lamb, pork or a mixture of any of these meats. Quickly sauté the meat with maybe diced carrots, or celery, onions, add a little white wine if you are feeling adventurous.

Combine an egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, then fill your pasta. The best sauce to use for this is Béchamel; or Béchamel with Gorgonzola, Taleggio or other cheese mixed in at the end.

Three-Cheese Cannelloni
Recipes header
Three-Cheese Cannelloni

Three-Cheese Cannelloni with Chopped Italian Salad

Cannelloni is very similar to a lasagna noodle in rolled-up form. The sauce cooks in a skillet, then cannelloni are nestled in and baked to perfection.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • 3 ⁄4 oz Parmesan 3
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella 3
  • garlic use 2 large cloves
  • 1 ⁄2 lb fresh pasta sheets use 3 sheets 1,2
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 container ricotta 3
  • 11 ⁄2 oz pepperoncini
  • 1 ⁄2 oz white wine vinegar
  • 1 romaine heart
  • olive oil
  • coarse kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • nutmeg
  • sugar


  • Prep ingredients: Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center. Grate parmesan and mozzarella on large holes of a box grater. Peel and finely chop 2 large garlic cloves. Cut 3 cooked al dente lasagna sheets each in half crosswise to make 6 pieces total (save rest for own use). If necessary, finely chop tomatoes in their can with kitchen scissors.
  • Make filling: In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, parmesan, half of the mozzarella, 1 tablespoon oil, a pinch of nutmeg, and 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and coarsely ground pepper.
  • Make sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium ovenproof skillet. Add 2⁄3 of the garlic and cook over medium-high until golden, 1 minute. Add tomatoes and 1⁄2 cup water and bring to a boil. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and several grinds pepper. Pour all of sauce into a heatproof bowl. Off the heat, spoon 1⁄2 cup sauce back into skillet.
  • Assemble cannelloni: Arrange halved pasta sheets on a work surface. Divide ricotta mixture evenly, making a stripe down the center of each sheet. Roll up into cylinders and return to skillet seam side-down. Pour remaining sauce on top.
  • Finish cannelloni & bake: Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top and bake until pasta is tender, cheese is golden, and sauce is nearly absorbed, 15– 20 minutes. Cover and let sit 5 minutes before serving. The pasta will absorb any excess liquid as it sits.
  • Make salad & serve: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine remaining garlic and pepperoncini (chop if necessary). Combine vinegar and 2 tablespoons oil… stir with a whisk vigorously until emulsified.(blended) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Quarter romaine lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces, discarding end. Add romaine to dressing and toss to coat. Use a spatula to transfer cannelloni to plates and serve salad alongside. Enjoy!

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