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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Sunday, December 4, 2022
Cooking with Collin: Christmas Cannelloni is a family tradition

Collin Goodine

Special to The Lake Report

Christmas to many is about spending time with family, eating, drinking wine and being merry. It is about bringing together past and future generations so they may share in the way things were and welcoming in new ideas. This time of year is about getting together and celebrating family traditions.

I have been blessed with the opportunity over the past five years to share in one of my family’s favourite Christmas traditions – making the Christmas dinner.

There are a few recipes that I could share for this meal but one that sticks out the most is the Christmas cannelloni. You will need a pasta machine for this recipe or can buy fresh pasta sheets from a local vendor.

This is a time that old and young can gather in the kitchen and sing and talk about everything and nothing at all. Each year I share this tradition with my wonderful mother-in-law and it is by far one day that I cherish and look forward to each year.

I hope that this may inspire you all to start the same family tradition. Enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce

4 litres crushed tomatoes

1/3 litre water

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp white sugar

2 oz vegetable stock

1 red pepper

1 white onion (halved)

1 red onion (halved)

2 oz olive oil

Simple Pasta

1 lb all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

5 farm fresh eggs (large)

1/2 cap full vinegar

1 tsp olive oil

Filling

1 litre Ricotta cheese

1/4 cup powdered Parmesan

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

3 tbsp Italian parsley (chopped)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic (pureed)

Salt to taste

1 farm fresh egg (large)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

 

Directions:

For this recipe, I suggest making the tomato sauce first, pasta second and filling last. The tomato sauce can be made well in advance.

 

Tomato sauce

Place the tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and vegetable stock into a medium, thick-bottomed pot and simmer on low.

In a second, smaller pot, saute the peppers, onions and olive oil until the vegetables are tender.

Once the vegetables are soft, add them to the simmering tomato sauce. Allow to simmer for about 45 minutes.

Add any fresh basil or oregano that you wish (if desired) at this point.

Allow the tomato mixture to cool.

Carefully pour the tomato sauce into a blender and puree the sauce until complete.

Jar the sauce and set aside in the fridge.

 

Pasta

In a food processor, add the flour and salt.

Crack all the eggs into a bowl, removing any shells that may fall in. Add the vinegar and the olive oil to the eggs.

Turn on the food processor and slowly add one egg at a time. Each time an egg is added allow the mixture to absorb the egg.

Continue until all the eggs are gone and the flour mixture looks like corn meal.

Remove the contents onto a clean surface and knead by hand until a smooth-textured pasta dough is formed.

Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for at least an hour or two. While the dough is resting, make the filling.

 

Filling

Drain the ricotta and gently squeeze out any moisture by hand or in cheese cloth.

Add all ingredients into a large bowl without the egg and mix with a wooden spoon.

Season to taste.

Once you are happy with the flavour, add the egg and mix.

Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the cannelloni.

Making the cannelloni for baking

Cut pasta dough into quarters.

Roll out one quarter as flat as possible with a rolling pin or wine bottle.

Using a pasta machine, put the flattened dough in starting on setting 0 and continue to run through each time going up on the settings until you reach desired thickness (usually 6 or 7).

When you have pasta rolled out in a long sheet, cut 3 by 3 or 4 by 4-inch squares from the dough, removing any waste.

Place the ricotta in the middle of the square 1/2-inch thick from one side of the square to the middle (to resemble a white belt across the pasta sheet).

Wet the top of the pasta square with a little bit of water with a pastry brush.

Fold the bottom of the pasta over the ricotta and roll to the top of the pasta sheet. The end result will be a pasta tube filled with ricotta (cannelloni).

Continue this whole process until the desired number of cannellonis are made.

 

To bake

Cover the bottom of a casserole dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce.

Place cannellonis from top to bottom, touching each other, like a box of cigars.

Once the dish is filled, pour tomato sauce over the top of the cannelloni until covered.

Wrap with plastic wrap, then foil.

Bake in oven at 350F for 45 minutes.

Remove the cover, add cheese on top if desired.

Serve at the table with grated Parmesan, hot tomato sauce and basil pesto.