If you're in the mood to make cannelloni but don't have any pasta tubes left in the cupboard, we've got the perfect substitute that you'll likely have in your pantry. Did you know you can simply roll your own cannelloni noodles with par-cooked lasagna sheets to mimic the satisfying texture of this hearty Italian classic? It may take more time to make cannelloni this way, but it's worth the effort when you're craving a cylindrical stuffed pasta supper with a gooey cheese topping and a fragrant, herby aroma. What's more, making cannelloni eliminates all that layering that comes with preparing a lasagna, and it's much easier to portion the tubes of noodles into individual servings.
The essential trick to preparing cannelloni with dry lasagna sheets is to part cook them first in boiling water. This lends softness and flexibility to the pasta so it can be rolled up successfully without tearing. You want to gently boil them just enough so they hit that sweet spot; pliable enough to roll but not extremely floppy and overcooked. Bear in mind that the cannelloni noodles will cook for a second time once filled so they don't need to be fully cooked through at this point. As they bake, they'll absorb the surrounding sauce and stuffing to create the perfect al dente texture. Of course, if you have fresh lasagna sheets available instead of the dried variety, you can skip the par-cooking stage and get straight to stuffing and rolling.
Load Up Your Lasagna Sheets First Before Rolling
The second trick to making cannelloni with par-cooked lasagna sheets is to completely bypass the traditional way of filling cannelloni, which is to gently spoon or pipe the filling directly into the hard, uncooked tubes. You're not looking to shape your lasagna sheets into cylinders first because it's too messy and virtually impossible to hold the tubes together with one hand while filling them with the other. Instead, lay the sheets flat on your countertop and spoon your filling along one of the longer sides.
With regards to the stuffing, anything goes here, from a meaty ragu to a cheesy mushroom mixture, or the classic spinach and ricotta. As long as the filling has a little body to it and isn't overly wet, you should be able to neatly roll it up (remember that the lasagna sheet will be flexible enough to roll without it tearing because you've par-cooked it). Place your filled cannelloni on your baking dish with the seam side down so it sits on top of your bottom layer of sauce. Continue with the remainder of your sheets until you have a full set of stuffed tubes. Finally, cover your cannelloni with more sauce and a generous sprinkling of cheese before baking for a golden, bubbling crust.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.