Pre-coeliac diagnosis, I used to make cannelloni using either the dried pasta tubes you can buy, or latterly by rolling them up in fresh lasagne sheets. Neither of these were totally satisfactory as the tubes were always too small and fiddly, and the lasagne sheets generally split. So it’s been on my mind for a while to test out the pancake method.
My favourite cannelloni filling is a spinach and ricotta one I’ve devised myself, but it can also be stuffed with a meaty filling. The method for this is a bit time consuming, and best made in advance, but the joy of having a wonderful pre-prepared comforting dish to simply heat in the oven more than makes up for it.
I was cooking for 5, so I made 10 cannelloni. First, I made some gluten free pancakes using the following batter ingredients, beaten together then left to rest for half an hour:
- 125g plain flour
- 1 egg
- 250ml milk
I made this stretch to 10 small pancakes, but I think next time I’d make them thicker and either make 6 or double the mixture. Once cooked, I separated the pancakes with greaseproof paper to avoid them sticking to each other.
Next, the tomato sauce.
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 x tins chopped tomatoes
- generous pinch of stock powder (I use Marigold Bouillon)
- a good tablespoon of oregano
I softened the onion and garlic, added the tinned toms, stock and oregano, and let it simmer down until reduced by about half. A bit of seasoning then this went into two Pyrex dishes.
I also made about a pint of bechemel sauce, by my very simple method of making a roux with plenty of butter and flour, and adding milk to thicken, along with a couple of bay leaves to infuse while the milk heats up. I left this to cool, stirring regularly to avoid it making a skin.
For the filling, I used:
- about 8 shallots, peeled and chopped super-small
- a handful of pine nuts, chopped
- a big bag of ready washed spinach, wilted, cooled and water squeezed out by hand, then chopped
- 750g ricotta cheese
I mixed all the filling ingredients together in a big bowl then divided it up roughly into 10 portions, to fill the pancakes. A wee bit of origami is involved, as shown by the snaps below:
When rolled, these were placed in the tomato sauce, ready for a covering of the bechemel sauce and a generous sprinkling of parmesan. To bake straight from the fridge, they took about 35 mins at 180C. They very much lived up to their expectations, and the pancake was very easy to work with, albeit a bit on the thin side.