Wow… I can’t believe I’m making fresh pasta and I think I’ve finally got the hang of it!
I noticed that making pasta for six, the original method I used didn’t quite work to my satisfaction and today, on my third attempt, I had a much better feel for what I was doing while using the mixer.
The key to making the dough is starting off with the paddle attachment, letting it do its thing until you have a crumbly mixture, then switch to the dough hook and let it continue mixing until it’s a more or less cohesive ball, adding only the tiniest dribbles of water if it absolutely needs it to get things to stick together. Once it’s made into a ball, turn it out, cover it with a bit of plastic wrap and leave it alone for at least 30 minutes.
Using this method, the dough cooperated so much better today, than it did on New Year’s Eve, when I was making linguini.
As a result of all my hard work & persistence, I am proud to announce: I made cannelloni!
I am still in awe that I made cannelloni.
The original plan was to make lasagna, but for whatever reason, I decided that I just didn’t feel like doing that today. Actually, I was supposed to do a lot of things with this recipe, but I kept waffling over one thing or another and eventually ended up with what you see in the picture above.
Trying to find a suitable recipe for my needs, I noticed that a lot of recipes require you to cook your meat before using it as a filling and I’m not entirely sure why. Another thing I noticed was that the majority of the recipes for chicken lasagna I found online use an alfredo or bechamel-based sauce instead of tomato. As much as I enjoy a good cream sauce, it’s not exactly the most friendly meal for those of us who are lactose-intolerant, believe me.
I tried so hard to find a recipe that I was keen on making, but in the end, I just cobbled together something out of my head and I am rather proud of the results. Plus, with the leftover filling and pasta that remained, I finally made the ravioli I kept hoping I would make someday!
I just made enough cannelloni for myself & The Hubbs to have dinner, plus a portion for him to have a single lunch later in the week. I think if I had made an effort to make all the cannelloni possible with the ingredients listed in my recipe, it would have made about a dozen cannelloni.
One thing I should mention that isn’t written in the recipe, and I would highly recommend, is: Make sure you use a generous amount of sauce when baking the cannelloni, as the uncooked pasta absorbs as much liquid as it can from the sauce that it bakes in. If there isn’t enough, the cannelloni will potentially dry out, sticking to your pan, and making the cannelloni itself not tender enough. Plus, The Hubbs mentioned that he likes it when everything is saucier while he’s eating.
Even after making a few pieces of ravioli, there were still many pieces of leftover pasta sheets remaining. Those bits’n’bobs I cut into even smaller pieces with my pasta wheel and left them out to dry completely, so they can be used for soup noodles or a quick late night snack.
I have to say, I am pretty darn chuffed with this pasta-making thing ^_^
Chicken, Ricotta & Spinach Cannelloni
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tub ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 a package of frozen spinach, thawed and all the water squeezed out
your favourite pasta sauce, homemade or jarred
fresh pasta made with 300g of flour + 3 eggs
parmesan & mozzarella cheese for sprinkling on top
Begin by making your pasta dough and set the dough aside until ready to use, at least 30 minutes.
If needed, make your sauce and set aside until ready to use.
To make the filling: grind the chicken thighs in a food processor (or meat grinder, if you happen to own one) until you have a fine mince.
In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, parmesan cheese, and spinach until well combined. Season to taste.
Add the chicken mince & egg and with clean hands, combine until you have a relatively homogeneous filling mixture. Set aside in the fridge.
Time to roll out your pasta sheets!
Roll the pasta dough until it’s your desired thinness — on my kitchen aid, for lasagna/cannelloni sheets, I rolled it until I reached #5. Make sure to flour your dough well so it doesn’t stick to the rollers and place the sheets somewhere to dry slightly until the rest of your dough has been rolled out.
When you’re ready to assemble the cannelloni, take out your filling & preheat oven to 425F.
Cover the bottom of a 9×13″ casserole dish with enough sauce so that you have a generous layer to nestle in the filled cannelloni.
One sheet at a time, cut each of the pasta sheets to about the length of your hand, then place about 1/3 cup of filling along the bottom of each and roll the pasta to enclose everything, as below.
Place the finished cannelloni seam-side down in the sauce and continue with the remaining pasta sheets & filling.
When all the cannelloni have been filled, pour enough sauce over top to completely cover everything and top with parmesan & mozzarella cheese.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour, remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove cannelloni from oven and let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.