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SPINACH AND CHEESE FILLED CANNELLONI

 

Ingredients:

Pasta:

1 Master recipe

kosher salt

2 tablespoon olive oil

Filling:

2 pounds fresh spinach, rinsed and trimmer

8 ounces mascarpone

12 ounces ricotta cheeses

1 whole extra-large eggs

3 extra-large egg yolks

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

salt and black pepper to taste

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Balsamella sauce:

4 ounces unsalted butter

1/3 cup unbleached flour

3 cups milk

salt, black pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg to taste

 

Directions:

Pasta:

Thin the pasta to the setting #3.  Cut into squares and cooking lightly salted water for as long as it takes for the pasta to come to the surface plus 30 seconds.

 

Transfer the squares to a bowl of cold water to which the olive oil has been added.  When they are cool, lift the pasta onto damp towels. (The pasta may be made a day in advance and refrigerated.)

 

Filling:

Bring 4 quarts of water to a simmer in a pasta pot.  Cook the spinach in 3 batches briefly, waiting for the water to return to boil before lifting and draining the spinach as if it were pasta.   Squeeze moisture from the spinach, transfer it onto a block and finely chop it.  Transfer it into a mixing bowl.

 

Add the cheeses, eggs and seasonings.  Mix well, and set aside.

 

Balsamella:

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan.  Heat the milk separately.

Stir the flour into the butter with a wooden spoon and cook together over medium low heat for 2 minutes.  Take the flour mixture off the heat for 3 minutes while waiting for the milk to  reach the simmer.

 

Pour the hot milk into the roux, put the pan back over medium-low heat and stir to mix.  Cook over low heat for 1 minute.  Stir in seasonings and take off the heat.  Pour into a bowl to hold while assembling the cannelloni.  Dot the surface of the sauce with butter if it will wait more than a few minutes.

 

 

Assembly and cooking:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 10" x 14" baking dish.

 

Place one of the cannelloni squares on your work surface.  Lay a generous amount of spinach filling along the edge nearest you and roll it up into a tube.  Lay the cannelloni in the dish with the seam showing.  Repeat this filling and rolling process with the remaining pieces.

Pour on the balsamella and bake for 25 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 

Yield: 8-12 servings