Let me tell you, cannellonis are not easy to find in M’sian grocers. It’s only lately I saw an influx of this pasta. Actually, I’m beginning to see an influx of different, more unusual varieties of pastas in stores like huge rigatonis and orecchiette.
I will confess something really unpleasant though, this box of cannellonis I bought were not in tippy-top condition much to my chagrin and utter disgust at the store’s QC. The cannellonis at the bottom all had bug-bite marks on it. I don’t know if it was roaches or some other kind of insect but it really, really got me miffed that the shops would sell stuff in that condition. And they’re not exactly cheap either. I didn’t want to throw away all my cannellonis, so I rinsed them under water. Not too long for fear of washing away the starch. But those that look really horrid were discarded. I really hate wasting food so it was not off to a good start.
For this recipe, I made a batch of ricotta from scratch as well as my marinara sauce. You might ask, why go through all that trouble just for a dish? Well, I always like to experiment and the ricottas selling in the market are way too expensive to afford. I took this photo (below) from a store’s booklet just to show I’m not exaggerating and that I have solid proof.
And the funnier thing is….you’ll probably find ricotta cheese under that brand name only and nothing else. No other choices, not in price or even brand. Talk about lack of imagination. Anyways, I actually bought ricotta only once in my entire lifetime, just to make lasagna for the first time, after that I stopped making lasagna or anything that needs ricotta cheese because I just can’t stomach paying that much for just ONE ingredient. So, to answer the question before…yes, I will continue to use homemade ricotta even if it’s just for one dish, because once you got the hang of it…it’s not all that difficult. You save a lot of money and you get to eat all those lovely dishes that needs ricotta.
Even store-bought marinara sauces are not cheap for just one-time use (below).
The costs for my homemade marinara sauce goes only to the canned diced tomatoes and tomato paste, which is still a lot cheaper that the ready-sauces in total. I use canned diced tomatoes because they have better flavour than the fresh ones for my sauce.
I’d like to say that I do not have anything against store-sauces or people who use it, it’s your money you can do whatever you want. If you think life is too short for homemade sauces then go ahead and use the jarred ones. To me rather, there’s no better feeling than knowing you can make your own cheese and marinara sauces.
I decided to not use a meat sauce with this recipe because I like to have vegetarian days so it was all veges. After all that cooking you know what’s my final comment? It actually taste just like a lasagna, only that it’s in tubes. I suppose that’s bound to happen since the ingredients are somewhat similar but compared to a lasagna, you don’t need to layer the pasta sheets.
It was a good meal…but too much drama went with it. Even the pictures of this recipe didn’t excite me because I had to shoot them indoors. Normally I’d go outside for the best natural light but my neighbour was having some renovation work done to her kitchen and I was paranoid about sawdust getting into my food.
I hope I have not put you off making this dish with all my dramatic bantering. I guess we can’t have rosy days, blue skies and colourful rainbows all the time. Have all these events put me off making cannellonis? Of course not. Maybe the next round would be more uneventful.
ROCKET AND MUSHROOM CANNELLONI RECIPE
Shredded Mozarella cheese
Brown mushrooms, sliced
Big bunch rocket, roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
250 gms Ricotta cheese
A handful of grated Parmesan
1. Get a roasting dish ready whether it’s individual portions or family serving size. Cook your chopped onions and garlic in a frying pan with olive oil. Add your mushrooms and the chopped parsley. Just cook the mushrooms till they’re slightly soft but not completely wilted.
2. Turn off the heat and mix in the rocket. They don’t have to be cooked through, they’re completely edible raw.
3. Put your ricotta cheese in a big bowl. Break the egg in and mix with Parmesan, parsley, the cooked mushrooms and rocket, salt and black pepper. Put your filling in a piping bag (below).
4. Pour some of the marinara sauce at the bottom of your roasting dish, it has to be high enough to at least cover half the tube of a cannelloni. Pipe your filling into the cannelloni, I do this with the tubes standing up in the marinara sauce so I can arrange them lying down later. Do this till you fill up the roasting dish. If you plan to stack them up, cover the first layer with marinara sauce and shredded mozarella first.
5. Top with a final layer of sauce and shredded mozarella. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 20 mins or until the cheese is bubbly and brown. Let it cool slightly before eating and garnish with parsley.
Enjoy! Even with all that has happened…be grateful for meals on the table!