Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mozzarella Stuffed Cannelloni with Spicy Italian Ragú

Mozzarella Stuffed Cannelloni with Spicy Italian Ragú

Making this dish is definitely an event in my home.  Its an all day task that takes lots of love and lots of ingredients, but it is SOOO worth it.  It starts with my Spicy Italian Ragú, a recipe that's taken me a couple of years to perfect.  The sauce begins with some spicy Italian sausage, LOTS of red wine and a handful of brown sugar.  It has to "simmah...dahn...nah" (for you Paula T.) for about 3-4 hours, until it's thick, concentrated, dark and delicious. The béchamel that tops it off uses my secret weapon ingredient for all of my recipes that call for nutmeg...pumpkin pie spice!

Of course, this dish is easily tweaked for use with your own favorite sauce, I know us foodies take great pride in "our" sauce.  Let me know what makes yours the best!

Mozzarella Stuffed Cannelloni with Spicy Italian Ragú

Spicy Italian Ragú

Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 3-4 hours / Servings: 8-10

Spicy Italian Ragú
  • 4 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 3 large scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 lb. spicy Italian Sausage
  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 10 oz. baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups red wine (I use Ménage à Trois)
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large dutch oven or boiling pot, heat the olive oil on high heat.  Add the bell pepper, garlic, scallions and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften them.  Add the meat, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium and cook for 7-10 minutes until the meat is browned.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, pumpkin pie spice, basil, bay leaves, brown sugar and oregano.  Stir until all ingredients are combined, adjust salt and pepper, reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for 3-4 hours.  When the sauce is ready it should be a thick, reduced and concentrated ragú, with only a trace of liquid left in it.  Remove the bay leaves before serving the sauce or adding it to the cannelloni.
Béchamel Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes / Cook Time: 10 minutes / Servings: 8-10

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan on medium heat.  Whisk in the flour, creating a thick roux.
  2. Slowly add the milk, continuing to whisk, until incorporated.
  3. Add the bay leaf and pumpkin pie spice.  Season with salt and pepper and stir until combined.
  4. Turn the heat to low, slowly add the cream, continuing to whisk, until a thick sauce is formed.
  5. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, cover, and set aside.

Prep Time: 30 minutes / Cook Time : 35 minutes / Servings: 8

  • 1 lb. no boil, flat lasagna sheets (16 sheets) OR 16 fresh lasagna sheets
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 4 cups Spicy Italian Ragú (see recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups Béchamel sauce (see recipe above)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (for garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. If using no boil lasagna sheets: Soak the lasagna sheets in a pan of warm water for about 20 minutes until they're soft and pliable.  Pat each one dry with a paper towel.   (If using fresh pasta, disregard this step.)
  3. Lay the pasta sheets out flat on a large, greased, glass baking dish.
  4. Slice the mozzarella into 16 long, thin slices. Place a slice of the mozzarella into the center of each of the lasagna sheets.
  5. Place about 1/4 cup of the ragú over the cheese and roll each of the lasagna sheets up (start from one of the shorter edges) after you fill them with the cheese and ragú.  Place them open side down on the baking dish and arrange them so all 16 fit into the dish.
  6. Pour the béchamel sauce over the canneloni, top with the Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let them cool for about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Mozzarella Stuffed Cannelloni with Spicy Italian Ragú


  1. Absolutely amazing Hoopfinity - great work! I love it :)

  2. Ahhhhhhhhh okay i am so freakin drooling over here Heather my gosh that looks so good!!!!!!!!!! It's me chicky couldn't post with my google account hmmmmm

  3. So delicious and a lot easier than I thought it would be. Took it for a lunch at work and got lots of compliments.