Many years ago I visited a beautiful village in the north of Italy called Valeggio Sul Mincio. Valeggio is not only renown for its beauty and historical importance, but it’s also a gastronomical hotspot for fresh pasta and tortellini. One of the last time I went there I bought a tray of filled tubes of pasta, like cannelloni, with various filling each and topped with a light bechamel sauce.
Since then my cannelloni are always upside-down. This version has a simple ricotta and spinach filling, I usually add some nutmeg but nor this time as in the white sauce, the besciamella, I added the smoked garlic Arran cheese I bought at the Perth Farmers’ Market a few days ago.
This particular flavour of the Arran cheese is so delicate that you need to be quite careful not to add any other ingredient that can overpower the light smoky and garlicky taste of the cheese.
We all enjoyed last night for our dinner, and I hope you will enjoy it too.
If you don’t want to make your own pasta, you can buy lasagna sheets from the chilled area, and it’s best if you boil each lasagna sheet individually for about 1-2 minute, as it’s usually thicker and dryer then freshly made pasta before draining it and adding the filling.
Add more parmesan or grana and spinach at your taste and experiment with different fillings.
180g plain or pasta flour
2 medium eggs
250 g ricotta cheese
100 g spinach (cooked and chopped)
30 g grated parmesan
250ml of milk
30g of plain flour
70g Smokey Garlic cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Preheat an oven to 190° C/ Gas 5.
Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crack the eggs in to the well, then, with a fork, mix the eggs into the flour as much as possible so it's not sticky. Keep mixing and then when crumbs form put it on a flat surface and knead together.
Once it is all combined, knead until you have a silky smooth, elastic dough. You are aiming to achieve a playdough texture. If your dough is crumbly (too dry) add a little of water. If the dough is sticks to your hands (too wet) add a little extra flour. Cover with cling film and rest for a few minutes.
To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter, add the flour and make a rough, add the milk a little at the time and cook until thick.
Add the grated cheese and season it with salt and pepper.
Mix together the ricotta, spinach and parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
Roll the pasta stopping at the second last setting of the pasta machine for the right thickness and cut it in sheets.
Cook the pasta sheets in boiling and salted water for just 1 minute, then drain and keep aside on a tray without overlapping the pasta.
Spread part of the filling on each pasta sheet, and roll up into a cylinder. Once all sheets are filled, spread a little of bechamel sauce on the bottom of your oven dish.
Cut the cannelloni in 4 or 6 cylinders and then lay them on top of the sauce with the swirl up.
Spread the remaining bechamel sauce on top.
Bake until bubbling and golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand few minutes before serving.