ITALIAN SAUSAGE PESTO CANNELLONI


I am super excited about this meal...wholly mama!  Now there are a few steps to this recipe, but it is not difficult, no more different to make than lasagna, so no worries!   The only thing you need to do ahead of time, is to drip the yogurt for 48 hours.  I have discovered, dripping the yogurt this long gives a way better product.  Usually I add about two cups of yogurt to a coffee filter lined sieve, placed over a bowl and cover with plastic, then refrigerate for 48 hours.  It will give one to one and half cups of awesome yogurt cheese.  So when the yogurt cheese is ready, in the early afternoon I make the Crepes - aka Cannelloni, the recipe is here.   Then I place the cooked crepes onto a plate, cover in plastic wrap, set aside to use for dinner.  The other bonus to this recipe is I had left over meat filling and leftover pesto spinach filling - a new recipe on the way.  It is worth it to make this amount so you do have some extra - trust me....tomorrows dinner will be a piece of cake.  Well not literally, but you know what I mean.  Also, this could be tasty with ground beef or a ground beef/pork combination too.
Tomato Sauce:
one 398  ml. can of plain tomato sauce
splash of Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil
1/2 a large onion, diced
3 minced garlic cloves
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tsp. each of Italian Seasoning, Ground Fennel, dried Basil
Meat Filling:
1 lb. gluten free sausage (I used mild Italian, casings removed, also I did not season with salt as the meat was already seasoned)
1/2 a large minced onion
3 large diced crimini mushrooms
4 minced garlic cloves
8 Tblsp. of the above Tomato Sauce
Fresh cracked pepper
Pesto Spinach Filling:
1 cup Yogurt cheese (drip for 48 hours) I use Plain Organic or Homemade Organic Yogurt
one 10 oz. package of frozen spinach, steamed, then drained, and wring through a clean towel to remove excess water
4 heaping Tblsp. Basil Pesto
a generous 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Extra cheese:
1 cup of grated Asiago Cheese for the top of the Cannelloni
Light sprinkling of Parmesan Cheese
Prepare the yogurt cheese ahead of time.  Then make the Crepes, and place onto a plate to cool, then wrap in plastic wrap and set aside.
Begin with the tomato sauce.  Heat up a medium sized pan on medium heat with a good drizzle of olive oil.  To the pan add the diced onions, salt and pepper, and saute to sweat out, about 5 minutes.  Then add in the minced garlic, saute until fragrant.  Pour in the tomato sauce, Balsamic Vinegar and add the rest of the seasonings, stirring and bringing to a simmer.  Cover, with the lid ajar, and turn the heat down to a low simmer.  Stir occasionally, and keep on a low simmer for about 20-30 minutes.  While this is cooking, bring 1/4 -1/2 cup of water to the boil in a small saucepan.
Add the frozen spinach, and simmer lightly until no longer frozen.  Line a colander with a clean towel and drain the spinach.  Allow to cool, then wring out the towel, to release any excess liquid from the spinach.  Transfer the spinach to a bowl and set aside.
Meat sauce:  Meanwhile, to a another frying pan on medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the mushrooms to the pan and saute until golden.  Then add in the minced onion sauteing until translucent.  Add in the sausage meat and brown about 10 minutes.  Drain off any extra renderings.  Season with fresh cracked pepper, and add the minced garlic, sauteing until fragrant.  Then add in the 8 Tblsp. of tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Simmer a minute or so then check for seasonings, and remove from the heat.

Pesto/Spinach Filling:
To the bowl of cooled spinach add the Pesto, Yogurt cheese, Parmesan Cheese, salt and pepper, stirring to combine.  The mixture should be quite thick, if not, add in more Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To the crepe add a generous amount of meat filling, then add a generous amount of Pesto Spinach filling on top.

Roll up, placing into a roasting pan or baking dish.

Spoon over the remaining tomato sauce, spreading evenly.

Add a light sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, the add the 1 cup of grated Asiago Cheese throughout the Cannelloni.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 30-45 minutes until heated through and the cheese has melted.  Remove from the oven, tin foil off, and let sit about 10 minutes before plating.  Enjoy!!!

Ina Gawne
author

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March 21, 2011
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