Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Zesty Cannelloni

If you're in Australia and you love food, you have to make a trip to Melbourne. I know I am biased about that beautiful city, but it's been my romping ground for a while. Sadly I have moved away from it, only to take some pretty fond memories with me and a list of great foodie haunts. I've been away too long it seems, as new and exciting restaurants have popped up all over the place. I'm keen to try Chin Chin on Flinder's Lane, Manchester Press and Chez Dre. I cant say how good these spots are because I haven't been yet but the reviews on Urbanspoon sound pretty fantastic.
My hot spots for Melbourne visitors would be:

Lygon Street in Carlton, to tease and satisfy the Italian in you
Brunetti's for to-die-for cakes, great coffee, biscuits and desserts. My kind of place.
Flinder's Street Station Spanish Donuts stand--hot churros like you've never tasted in your life!
Spaghetti Tree, for some seriously fine dining.

You can tell I like my Italian, right? There are lots of brilliant places to dine in Melbourne, as it has a large Italian community. That's mighty fine for someone like me who's favourite cuisine happens to be Italian. Anyone who thinks Italian is just pasta and pizza is seriously missing out...there are so many Italian foods that don't even come close to being pasta or pizza!
But pasta is my "one weakness". There's nothing like a good home made pasta, made from scratch, with love. Left to rise, stretched and re stretched through a pasta press. Cut out into little circles, filled with some delicious mixture. That's how I like it.
If you like Italian foods, you will most definitely enjoy this recipe for cannelloni. Think of mozzarella cheese melted over herby pasata, and home made pasta that has been wrapped around a delightful, zesty, ricotta, cottage cheese, and spinach filling. Everyone who tastes this delicious vegetarian dish will be wanting seconds. So make two batches. You won't regret it.

Obviously if you have the time, home made pasta wins over store bought any day. You can even make the pasta without a pasta press, if you have some brawn in those arms and a good rolling pin. Try to roll the pasta as thinly as possible without it breaking, as the texture makes all the difference and the thinner the pasta, the less cooking time is involved.

ZESTY CANNELLONI (adapted from Heart of the House)

Basic Pasta:

2 1/2 cups plain four
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup virgin olive oil


1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp. crushed garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
250g cooked spinach, chopped and drained
500g cottage cheese
500g fresh ricotta
100g parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs
grated zest of 1 lime
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (preferably flat leaved)
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar of pasata, or tomato based pasta sauce
1 cup cheese, grated (we suggest mozzarella)

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
To make the pasta, sift flour and salt into a large glass bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, and break each egg into the well. Add oil. Using your fingertips, gradually blend the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Continue to blend little by little until a thick dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until smooth and elastic. Leave dough on surface, cover with the mixing bowl and leave for 30-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the filling, place the onion and garlic in a fry pan and cook with the oil until softened. Add to a large bowl, along with the cooked spinach, cottage cheese, ricotta, half the Parmesan cheese, the eggs, zest, nutmeg and parsley. Mix thoroughly to combine and season with salt and pepper if desired.
Take a quarter of the pastry dough and run though the pasta press until very thin and stretched into a long portion. Cut as desired into squares (about 15 x 15 cm) and place 1/2 cup of the mixture in the centre of each. Roll up and place, seam down, into a 19x13 inch glass dish. (You could also use high-sided foil tray or something similar). Fill the ends with a little extra cheese mixture once in the dish.
Repeat with the remaining pasta dough and cheese mixture, lining all the pasta parcels up along side each other, until the tray is full and all the dough and mixture is used up. Top with pasata and remaining Parmesan and grated cheese.
Cook for 45 minutes covered in foil. Remove the covering and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8 adults, with a side of veggies.


  1. Nothing like a good pasta to comfort and satisfy, and your zesty, cheesy cannelloni definitely looks like it fits the bill!

    1. yes it certainly does! thanks for coming by Leaf!

  2. I've never tried homemade pasta before but you make it look easy (and delicious!)

    1. thanks Courtney. It's pretty easy, a little time consuming, but when you taste the results, you die and go to heaven, its that good!


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