Cannelloni with Isernio’s Sausage and Spinach

describe the imageWho doesn’t love a nice warm pasta dish on these chilly fall nights?  Here’s a recipe from our friend Brian Baldwin for a hearty cannelloni with ‘Rosa’ sauce.  Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Cannelloni  – Isernio’s Sausage & Spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced (or more to taste)
12 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed & drained)
8 oz. Isernio’s Hot Italian Chicken Sausage (links or roll)
8 oz. ground turkey, or Isernio’s Ground Chicken
2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Béchamel Sauce: 
4 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
4 cups milk
1 tsp nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste.       

Cheese Topping:  
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or shredded Italian mix – 4 Italian cheeses)

One 8-oz. package of manicotti shells


Make the Béchamel Sauce:  In saucepan, heat butter until melted. Add flour and stir until smooth. Add milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking until smooth. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 by 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

To make the filling:  In a large sauce pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, turkey, onion and garlic, cook until tender and brown, about five minutes. Stir in spinach, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Cook about five minutes.  Stir in approx 1 cup of the béchamel sauce.

Rosa sauce: Add approx 1 1/2 cups of Hunt’s Pasta Sauce Four Cheese (or any marinara sauce and 2 cups cheese) to the balance of the béchamel sauce until it’s a nice ‘Rosa’ color.

For the pasta, add package of manicotti shells to a large pot of boiling salted water.  Parboil for four minutes. Do not overcook, they will finish cooking in the oven. Carefully remove noodles from water to cool.  Place in the original package “rack” and let cool.

Use a zip lock bag to fill the shells with the filling.  Cut a small corner of the bag and squeeze the filling into the shells like a pastry bag.

To assemble the cannelloni:  Spread about 1/2 cup of the Rosa sauce in the baking dish.  Carefully transfer filled cannelloni to pan. Top cannelloni with remaining Rosa sauce.  Cover pan with foil and bake until sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, top with 2 cups mozzarella (or Italian mix) cheese and bake for 5 additional minutes, until cheese is melted.

Makes 14 cannelloni.  Serves 4 – 6.

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