This is a simple baked pasta that can be made with dry pasta shells that do not require cooking. You simply stuff, add sauce, cheese and bake. Add a beautiful salad and dinner for a crowd is served.
You will need:
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 small onion
- 3 cloves garlic - peeled
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves-removed from stalks
- 3 basil leaves (larger ones)
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- 3 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil - like Mandranova Nocellara
- salt and pepper to taste and add all along the cooking way!
- 1/2 pound ground beef (or mix half beef and pork)
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning mix
- 250gram/1 cup ricotta cheese
- more fresh basil leaves 2-3
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves removed from stalks
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- pkg no bake cannelloni shells
- 796ml/28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
- 1 cup grated mozzarella or Parmesan (or both) to top
- salt and pepper to taste in each step.
Step 1: to a food processor add carrot, celery, onion, garlic, thyme leaves, basil leaves and parsley. Puree until mix is a fine mince.
Step 2: in a large hot pan add good olive oil and minced vegetables. Sprinkle salt and pepper. People usually do not add enough salt and pepper to their cooking in an effort to reduce sodium however, this is why you taste all along the way so you can adjust when it tastes bland.
Step 3: add ground meat, dry Italian seasonings or even some chili flakes and cook until cooked through. Make sure you cook out all the water and then the meat will start to brown in the olive oil. Do not stop until all water has evaporated and it sizzles for a few minutes and starts to brown. Taste it and adjust salt and pepper. Set aside in a large bowl to cool slightly.
Step 4: add basil leaves, parsley, thyme, olive oil and garlic cloves to a food processor. Pulse until chopped. Add tomatoes and puree for 15 seconds until pureed. Add more salt and pepper. That is your sauce, set aside.
Step 5: once meat has cooled slightly add ricotta cheese and you may want to add a bit more chopped basil and parsley. This will add a bit of fresh uncooked flavour to the meat and cheese mix. Taste it and add salt and pepper if bland.
Note: it is not necessary but, I removed 2-3 tbsp of the meat before I added the ricotta so I could sprinkle it on top of my finished dish.
Step 6: fill your no bake shells (I use my clean hands because it is the easiest) Place on a large pan with a layer of sauce as a base. I use a pan that will accommodate 2 rows of shells. Because you are using no bake shells you must be generous with the sauce as the shells will absorb much of the liquid. If it looks like there is too much sauce don't worry. I used 3/4 of the sauce and saved a bit for serving to add a fresh uncooked sauce to the finished cannelloni.
Step 7: cover the tops of your cannelloni with tomato sauce to cover, sprinkle with cheese and the reserved beef if you like. I think it tells people there is meat in the dish. Bake in a 350 degree F oven until browned and bubbly approximately 30-40 minutes.
Top with a bit more parsley and some extra sauce for those that want some.