Beef cannelloni

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Beef cannelloni is an easy and quick dish to make, actually perfect for unexperienced cook. Cannelloni are a cylindrical type of pasta generally served baked with a filling and covered by a sauce.Some types of cannelloni need to be boiled beforehand, for others it is enough to use a runnier sauce or filling. If one cannot find ready made cannelloni, rolling lasagne around a filling is an alternative. The stuffing may include ricotta cheese, spinach and various kinds of meat. The sauces typically used are tomato or béchamel sauce.

Ingredients:

1kg lean minced beef
1 tbsp olive oil 1 large onion , finely chopped
4 garlic cloves , crushed
2 x 660g jars passata with basil
large pinch caster sugar
400g dried cannelloni tubes

For the topping

50g butter
50g plain flour
600ml whole milk
140g soft cheese with garlic and herbs
140g Parmesan , grated

Preparation:

For the filling, dry-fry the beef in a non-stick pan on a medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned – about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add the oil and cook the onion for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic for 1 min more, then tip in the beef and 1½ jars of the passata sauce and the sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes while you make the white sauce.

Heat the butter in a small pan. When foaming, stir in the flour for 1 min. Add the milk gradually, stirring all the time to achieve a lump-free sauce, then bubble for 2 minutes while stirring. Remove from the heat and stir in the soft cheese with seasoning until dissolved. Set aside, covered with cling film to stop a skin forming.

To assemble, pour the remaining tomato sauce into the base of 2-3 large baking dishes or 12 individual ovenproof dishes or foil containers. Spoon the beef into the cannelloni tubes using a teaspoon and lay on top of the sauce. Pour on the white sauce, then sprinkle with Parmesan. If freezing, allow to cool, then freeze wrapped well in cling film. To eat straight away, heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and cook for 40-45 minutes until the pasta is tender and topping golden. Defrost frozen cannelloni thoroughly, then cook as above for 50-55 minutes.