Sunday, April 8, 2012

Recipe Revisited: Sausage & Mushroom Cannelloni

As we ventured into the heart of Houston in search of food on Easter Sunday, we were constantly shutout at closed venue after closed venue (seriously, Chipotle, you can't be that holy). We knew we would have to take matters into our own hands and make a spectacular Easter Family Dinner. We also knew that we were feeling quite lazy (as my sweat pants could attest), so the bachelor staple spaghetti quickly came to the forefront of our discussion. Seeing how it was a special day, I decided we should make a more spectacular pasta with help from one of my first posts, a transformed spinach and mushroom cannelloni.

Cannelloni Noodles
Adapted from All Recipes
Previously Seen in Spinach & Mushroom Cannelloni
Servings: 15 noodles
Time: 20 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups water
6 eggs
1 tsp salt

  1. Whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into a lightly greased frying pan over medium heat and move in a circular motion to evenly spread.
  3. Cook until the top begins to change color and thicken then remove to a plate. They will keep cooking once removed, so wait to stack them on top of one another until the tops are completely done.
These noodles are ridiculously delicious and practically melt in your mouth. Even after making these twice, I can't believe that cooking what is essentially a noodle pancake has such fantastic results. I upped the salt for this go around to bump the flavor a little, and it worked wonderfully. Just make sure that when you cook these, you take them off before they're fully cooked so the backside doesn't get too hard. If cannelloni isn't your thing, these extremely worthwhile noodles could also be utilized for a lasagna.

Mushroom, Zucchini, Sausage & Cheese Filling
Time: 30 minutes

Olive Oil
Onion, diced
Garlic, minced
Sweet Italian sausage, ground
Salt and Pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes
Mushrooms, sliced
Zucchini, chopped
Jalapeno, chopped and seeded
Garlic Powder
Dried Basil
Ricotta cheese
Mozzarella cheese, grated
Pasta sauce (I suggest tomato and basil or vodka sauce) 

Luckily, the ugly filling gets covered up by the shell.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Brown the sweet ground Italian sausage in olive oil with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Sauté the onion, garlic, mushroom and zucchini in olive oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil and oregano until tender.
  4. Mix in the sausage and pasta sauce and cook until the sauce is warmed.
  5. Spread a little sauce (try to use mostly sauce and save the meat and veggies for the filling) over the bottom of baking dishes.
  6. Mix the sauce (go for mostly the meat and veggies this time) with the cheeses for a two to one ratio of cheese to sauce in a separate bowl.
  7. Fill each cannelloni shell with 1-2 tbsp of filling then roll and place roll side down in the baking dish. Pack tightly. Place the filling on the side of the cannelloni that was cooked since it's the uglier side, and vanity is everything.
  8. Top with the remaining sauce and mozzarella. Bake for 10 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and the noodles are warm.

The perfect sauce for pasta.
Kevin's sauce creation was the epitome of Italian goodness. The sweet Italian sausage's powerful flavor (including some fantastic bites of fennel) was brought out even more by the onion, garlic, mushroom and zucchini. Yes, zucchini is in the pasta sauce. I've noticed that green veggies actually go pretty well with your typical tomato sauces, so this is definitely something I want to experiment with in the future. Additionally there was a nice, subtle kick from the red pepper flakes and jalapeno that managed to enhance the flavor without distracting from it.

Naked noodles
Ricotta and mozzarella aren't the most commanding cheeses but they round out the filling brilliantly. The ricotta helps create a nice creamy and somewhat fluffy component, while the mozzarella (especially the cheese on top) helps push this almost toward a lasagna style.  Feel free to vary the ratio of cheese to meat and veggies, but I would definitely err toward the side of cheese for a more traditional approach.

Two giant casserole dishes filled for 3 hungry men.
As amazing as I thought the original spinach and mushroom cannelloni was (and I highly recommend it for a great vegetarian Italian night), this latest iteration absolutely blew Easter dinner away (thanks largely to the fact that I knew exactly how to handle the noodles this time). This was definitely a quick and easy way to turn a standard Italian night into something fresh and exciting that was just absolutely bursting with flavor.

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