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Quick And Easy Manicotti/Cannelloni

 I’m a big fan of manicotti, including the ones that use a crepe batter as the wrapper, like the ones I posted years ago here. But my favorite are the ones made of pasta, like the ones in the photo above.

Now, those of you who have eaten cannelloni may be wondering what’s the difference between manicotti and cannelloni, two very similar dishes. Well, you’d be hard pressed to find manicotti on a menu in Italy. It’s cannelloni you’ll see there, and they are fresh pasta tubes or sheets of pasta rolled into tubes (canna means reed in Italian) usually stuffed with either meat or cheese and topped with a béchamel sauce. Manicotti are frequently made with a crèpe dough and called crespelle in Italy. In the U.S., manicotti are typically made with ridged pasta tubes (manicotto means “muff” in Italian) that are sold dry in packages. They’re usually stuffed with ricotta and topped with tomato sauce. Whether you call them manicotti or cannelloni, the word police aren’t going to come after you, so long as the food tastes delicious — and this certainly does.
You can make your own pasta or go the easy route, as I did, and buy some packaged fresh lasagna sheets at the grocery store. For the stuffing, I would normally use a mixture of chopped spinach and ricotta. But it’s the season of wild mustard greens and I’ve been busy, as you can see from the sinkful I foraged last week. For more information on what to look for before the season vanishes and how to prepare them, click here. After blanching, most of them went into the freezer, but a bit of them were destined right away for these manicotti.
I cut the lasagna sheets in half and filled them with some of the ricotta and greens mixture. The dough is already really pliable so just a short soaking for a couple of minutes in hot water was all the softening it  needed.
 They’ll cook more once you cover them with sauce and bake in the oven.
Sprinkle with more mozzarella cheese, or parmesan if you prefer. They’re so easy to make and such a hit with everyone, the only problem is making sure you have enough.

Quick and Easy Manicotti/Cannelloni
printable recipe here
makes about 12

1 cup chopped and cooked wild greens or spinach
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T. olive oil
a handful minced parsley (about 1/4 cup)
3 cups ricotta cheese (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups mozzarella

1 package of fresh lasagna pasta (The brand I bought weighed 8.8 ounces)
about 1 – 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce

Sautè the onions and garlic in the olive oil until wilted, and add the greens or spinach and the parsley. Let it cool, then put in a bowl and mix with the rest of the ingredients, reserving about 1/4 cup of the mozzarella. Cut the lasagna sheets in half and fill with the ricotta mixture and roll up. Spread a little tomato sauce on the bottom of the casserole; place the manicotti in the casserole and spread more tomato sauce over the manicotti. Sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on top and bake for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes at 350 degrees until cooked and heated through.

This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. Yum! I haven't made these in quite a while but now I've got the "woolee" as my Dad likes to say. And even if the word police won't I will come after anyone who calls these manicotti—they're CANNELLONI!

  2. OMG! Bart will just go wild, so to speak, for this. He loves "greens" of all stripe. I love that you foraged the greens. Beet tops, mustard greens, you name it. I must make this one. Thanks.

  3. Never knew the difference between the two stuffed tubes but love them equally. Fun to use the foraged greens. (Would be fun to actually see green.) The best though is gazing at the dish knowing it is all possible.

  4. These are beautiful, Linda! In true Italian immigrant fashion, my parents decided to convert the remainder of their already small backyard into a garden (it's been a gradual chipping-away since I was a kid) and have broccoli rabe growing everywhere. It will make a perfect filling for your cannelloni!

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