I love Italian food. And I am sure that would be quite evident from the number of Pasta dishes I post on this blog. Pasta is made atleast once a week in our house and it is something both the husband and I love. Apart from the usual fusilli, penne and the likes I simply love Lasagna. That said, it is a bit time consuming due to the different ingredients and the texture combinations. I usually reserve it for special occasions. While I had been looking for a way to use those lasagna sheets, the idea of cannelloni came up after watching it on a TV show. I decided to use the ingredients I had at home and went ahead with spinach and sweetcorn. This dish can be made without the sweetcorn or with mushrooms. I thought that spinach gave this creamy dish an added texture and would recommend to use it.
The procedure itself is quite simple. You make the red sauce or the Marinara sauce. You make the white sauce or the Béchamel sauce. I reserved the use of cheese only to top the prepared Cannelloni before I baked it. My version of Béchamel sauce is quite low calorie as I seldom use butter or cheese – it turns out creamy still. Again, the Marinara sauce is my version of it and I prefer making these sauces at home, rather than going for store bought. Once the sauces are prepared and the veggies are cooked, all you need to do is it set it in your bake-cum-serve ware and pop it into the oven to have a creamy bubbly cheesy pasta – right in the comfort of your home.
To make Cheesy Spinach Sweetcorn Cannelloni
What I used –
- Lasagna Sheets, 5
- Onion, 1 small
- Ripe Tomatoes, 3 medium
- Garlic Pods, 12-15
- Spinach, 1.5 cups (tightly packed)
- Sweetcorn, ½ cup
- Toned Milk, 2 cups
- All Purpose Flour/Maida, 2 tbsp
- Pepper Powder, ½ tsp
- Chilli Flakes, 1tsp + ½ tsp
- Sugar, 1 tsp
- Mixed Dried Italian Herbs, 1 teaspoon + 1 tsp
- Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon + 1 tsp
- Mozzarella Cheese, 2-3 tbsp
- Salt, as required
- Water, as required
How I made –
- First in a wide mouthed pot, bring lots of water with salt and ½ teaspoon of oil to boil. Add the lasagna sheets and cook al dente. The pasta sheets on cooking should have a bite but not be overcooked. Strain off the water and spread the ½ teaspoon oil and place these lasagna sheet on it so that they don’t stick together.
- To prepare the white sauce or the Béchamel sauce, reserve ½ cup of milk and bring the rest of milk to boil in a pot. To the reserved milk, add the maida and mix well. As the milk comes to boil, pour this mixture into it and stir well.
- Slowly, the milk starts thickening. Add pepper powder and the salt required. Keep stirring. As the sauce coats the backside of the spoon, remove from heat. The sauce is ready. This is really low- calorie version of the white sauce.
- To prepare the Marinara sauce or the red sauce, make cuts on the whole tomatoes and bring them to boil in a pot of water. In about 5-7 mins, the skin of the tomato would be falling apart. Remove from heat and let it cool. This should make a cup of red sauce.
- Remove the skin of the tomato and blend it in a mixer jar to make the tomato puree.
- In pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add finely chopped garlic (½ of it). As the garlic begins to brown, add finely chopped onion. Fry until translucent.
- Add the prepared tomato puree. Add sugar, salt, 1 teaspoon of mixed Italian herbs, 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes. Mix well. The tomato puree should be cooked until the sauce comes together and there should be no raw smell. Set aside.
- In another pan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the remaining finely chopped garlic. Fry until they are light brown. Add finely chopped spinach. Stir well. The spinach would leave water.
- Add salt, ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes and a teaspoon of mixed Italian herbs. Mix well. Cook for 2 mins.
- Add the slightly blanched sweetcorn kernels. Cook for 2-3 mins.
- When the water has evaporated, add the already prepared béchamel or white sauce with the cooked vegetables and stir well.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 200 deg C for 5 mins. Take your baking dish and start organizing the Cannelloni.
- First fill the baking dish with the prepared marinara or red sauce as the first layer.
- Take each sheet of cooked Lasagna in a small plate and put a spoonful of the prepared spinach sweetcorn béchamel sauce. Roll the lasagna sheet gently so that the sauce is inside. Carefully place it in the baking dish starting from one side. Repeat the same with the rest of the lasagna sheets and the baking dish should be lined with the sauce filled, rolled lasagna sheets.
- Pour the remaining spinach sweetcorn béchamel sauce on top of the rolled lasagna sheets in the baking dish.
- Top it with grated mozzarella cheese evenly. Bake it for 10 mins and toast for 2-3 mins until the cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.
- Serve hot. Scoop each cannelloni with the different sauces while serving.
- Follow the instructions at the back of the Lasagna pack while cooking the pasta. The sheets might stick together, so use ½ teaspoon of olive oil.
- Store bought red and white sauce can be used to quicken the preparation.
- Instead of making tomato puree at home, one can used packaged puree.
- The baking times differ between different ovens. Keep checking to ensure the cheese doesn’t burn.
- Feel free to add more cheese at different layers. I make this an exception to our usual low calorie diet and hence used cheese only to top the pasta before baking.