Cannelloni and manicotti are pasta dishes that bring to mind Italy just upon hearing the words. They are essentially the same dish but with slightly different presentations. By most definitions the manicotti is a stuffed shell, where the pasta has been preformed by an extruder. The cannelloni is a stuffed shell that has been rolled.
When you examine the foods of different cultures you will find that there are similarities in preparation though there will be differences in ingredients. The cannelloni predates pasta extruders. It comes from a time when everything was made by hand. The pasta itself would have been rolled out with a rolling pin. The dish itself is similar to the classic enchilada, a filling rolled into a pasta or tortilla covered with sauce and baked.
The dish I made here is a cannelloni using my fresh pasta. I went a little against tradition. Instead of ricotta cheese, which would work quite well in this, I used cottage cheese. But not straight from the container. I went the extra mile to bring it closer to the texture of ricotta.
Run the cheese through a food processor till it is smooth. Then let drain through a coffee filter and a mesh strainer till excess whey is pressed out (about 2 days in the fridge). The texture and consistency will change and bring an interesting flavor dimension to the dish. This will also work for other instances when ricotta isn’t available.
The sauce was a fresh vegetable ragout. Ragout is more than just the commercial sauce (spelled Ragu). It is a sauce that is cooked to a sec or demi sec state. This means it is dry or almost dry. In this case it is not as watery as the initial sauce would be.
There really isn’t a recipe for this. It is something you are better playing around with a bit to find what your tastes are. You could easily use a jarred sauce for this and be just fine. I will give the ingredient list so you can see what I was working with when I made it.
1lb cottage cheese
Fresh Veggie Ragout:
1 small onion
1.5 lb tomatoes
1 clove garlic
A layer of sauce in the bottom of the pan helps to keep the pasta from sticking to the pan. A single layer of shells works out well.
For the sauce: Start with the carrots. They will take the longest to cook through. Then slowly add in the other veggies adding the tomatoes last. Cook the veggies till al dente. This is not a sauce that is pureed. You want to see the shapes of the veggies still.
Time for a pint…