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Rachael's genius cannelloni short-cut: forget stuffing messy, fussy tubes and ROLL the filling in small pasta squares instead.
"This is the simplest, silliest cannelloni recipe that you can possibly make because we're going to fake out the cannelloni," says Rach. "We're not stuffing tubes of pasta—we're going to quick-cook, in six minutes, short-cut little pasta squares that are made for lasagna." You then roll those up with the filling and bechamel, top with passata and Parm in a casserole dish and broil. It couldn't be easier!
Rach likes to serve the cannelloni with a salad of arugula or chopped escarole with shaved fennel and white onion. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Kick off the meal with John's Blood Orange Negroni.
Pro tip for the freshly grated nutmeg: One of the coolest gifts Rach got last year was a nutmeg grinder. "I saw Michael Symon, my dear friend, using this and giggling about it and I became obsessed with it."
For another roll-up cannelloni recipe by Rachael, check out this version with butternut squash and escarole.
- 16 pieces dry flat square lasagna sheets (8 if using rectangular sheets)
- One 1-pound bag chopped frozen spinach, defrosted
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- Black or red pepper, to taste
- Splash of chicken broth or water, plus more as needed for bechamel
- 1 warm rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed and meat finely chopped or pulled
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 ½ cups warm milk
- White pepper, to taste
- Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/8 teaspoon
- About 2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 2 cups passata
- Chopped parsley, to serve
Cook pasta rectangles in well-salted boiling water for about 6 minutes to soften, then drain, arrange in one layer on parchment and cover with towel.
Preheat broiler, with rack at center.
Wring all liquid out of the spinach in a kitchen towel. In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the EVOO, then add the garlic and zest and swirl. Add the spinach, season with salt and black or red pepper, add a splash of chicken broth or water and heat through. Remove from pan to a bowl.
Add chicken to spinach.
In a saucepot, melt butter over medium heat, whisk in flour to make a roux and add warm milk. Thicken and season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Keep warm while you assemble the cannelloni; if it gets too thick, add a splash of stock to thin out.
Add ¾ cup or so of sauce to chicken and spinach and about the same amount of Parm, then combine.
Pile 1/3 cup of filling on one end of each pasta sheet, roll cannelloni and arrange in a casserole dish. Top with sauce and dot each roll with about 2 tablespoons passata and the remaining Parm.
Broil until brown and bubbly, garnish with chopped parsley and serve from the casserole dish.