Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Cannelloni, Part 2: Filling your Crêpes

Cannelloni is traditionally stuffed with ricotta cheese and herbs, and topped with tomato sauce. I have always enjoyed the addition of vegetables to my stuffed pasta dishes, and mushrooms and spinach are fairly common ingredients in Italian food. In this case, the spinach and mushrooms add volume as well as flavor, since this is a cheese-less cannelloni.

1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons non dairy butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
8 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced
3 cups spinach
2 small onions halved and sliced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the garlic and cashews in the bowl of a food processor. Process into crumbs. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and mix until it forms a paste. With the processor on, add the hot water until it is smooth and creamy.

Heat oven to 375º. Place the onions in a shallow dish. Drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until tender and golden.

In a small pot, melt the butter until it begins to simmer. Add the flour and stir into a paste, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the milk into a microwave safe dish and heat until it is warm. I use a glass measuring cup for this. Slowly add the warm milk to the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Once all the milk is added, whisk until it begins to thicken. Add the cashew cream and stir to incorporate. Add the cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.

Place the mushrooms in a sauté pan and cook until brown and  tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Place the spinach in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 and 1/2 minutes, until wilted. Add the mushrooms, spinach, and onions to the béchamel sauce. Stir until everything is coated.

Check back tomorrow for simple tomato sauce and putting your cannelloni together!

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