I have been wanting to make Honeycomb Cannelloni for years now so I am thrilled to have finally made it, that it not only tasted really good but looked pretty fantastic. All in all, a winner of a dish.
You fill the cannelloni tubes with a sauce of your choice and then bake it upright giving a honeycomb effect and therefor the name honeycomb cannelloni.
For this version, I made a rich tomato sauce with some chorizo and filled the tubes with the sauce. Then stuffed the tubes with ricotta and topped the honeycomb cannelloni with a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. The options for the filling are really endless. Omit any meat and use a good tomato sauce (homemade is best) with any cheeses of your choice. I have seen versions with pumpkin and spinach or a classic bolognese filling.
The key to the success of the dish is having enough sauce to fill the cannelloni tubes and that the dish you for baking it in is high enough for the tubes to stand upright. If too much of the cannelloni tubes stick out over the edge or not filled at least three quarters, the top of the tubes will cook dry and quite tough.
I used a 22cm cast-iron casserole dish and the cannelloni fitted just level with the edge. I spooned a third of the sauce in the bottom and then stood the tubes upright in the sauce (push them down into the sauce). Use a teaspoon to spoon ricotta into each tube and push it down (I found my finger to be the best method for this). The rest of the sauce is then spooned over and into the tubes.
You need a sauce that is quite liquid and rich but definitely not watery. If you see the sauce not filling the tubes enough, pour another tin of chopped tomatoes over the tubes to fill them. Let the dish stand for 30 minutes or so to soften the pasta, then cover with cheese and bake to cooked through.
The chorizo adds a richness and a bit of spice to the sauce but you can easily replace it with ground beef and make a classic bolognese sauce. The honeycomb cannelloni also improves the longer it stands and we found the leftovers to be so good the next day.
- Olive oil for frying
- 200g chorizo, removed from casing and broken up
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 fat cloves garlic, mashed
- 1 chili, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried oreganum
- 3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 125ml red wine
- 2 tsp sugar
- Handful of torn fresh basil
- Salt and ground pepper to season
- 500g cannelloni tubes (approx)
- 250g ricotta
- 100g grated mature hard cheese
- 100g grated mozzarella
- Fry the chorizo over a medium high heat until the fat has been released and the sausage is broken up
- Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside
- Fry the onion, carrots and celery in the fat for about 10 minutes until soft and cooked, adding olive oil if needed
- Add the garlic, chilli, bay leaf and oreganum and fry for another 5 minutes
- Add the tomatoes, red wine, sugar and basil and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes (it must not be too thick as you need a “saucy” sauce)
- Season the sauce
- Use an oven proof casserole dish high enough so that the cannelloni tubes will not stick out and about 22cm in diameter
- Spoon a third of the sauce in the dish
- Place the cannelloni tubes standing up in the sauce leaving a bit of space in between
- Spoon the ricotta into each tube and push down into the tube (use your finger)
- Spoon the rest of the sauce over and let it fall in and between the tubes
- If the tubes are not filled enough, spoon over another tin of chopped tomatoes (you went the tubes filled at least two thirds)
- Let the dish stand for 30 minutes so that the pasta can soften
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
- Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until the pasta is cooked through
- Let stand for 10 minutes and serve
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A few more of my favourite pasta dishes :