This was a tough night. I am trying not to buy too many groceries this month as we went away, we need to get our car fixed and some house repairs done. We are trying to use only cash so I am trying to use up all the bits and pieces of things in the house and trying not to go to the grocery store unless it is something absolutely necessary, like milk or eggs, that I cannot make.
I had both kids going through the cupboards and freezer looking to see what exactly we had on hand and trying to figure out what I could make. I finally put it all together and came up with a version of cannelloni.
It has a Parmesan cheese sauce mixed in with the meat and a red sauce over the dish. I didn’t even bother precooking the noodles but rather just added a bit of extra water to the dish and some extra cooking time to avoid the extra step. I think stuffing Manicotti and Cannelloni are so much easier in a non-cooked shell.
This was a nice warm comforting meal. With the cold weather lately this warmed our insides and had the house smelling wonderful! I would definitely make this meal again but probably leave out the Parmesan cheese in the sauce choosing to put it over the top instead. There was nothing wrong with the cheese sauce it just didn’t have that spark of flavor like we had hoped. This would also be delicious made with 1/2 bulk sausage and 1/2 ground beef.
I served this with green beans, garlic bread and a green side salad.
- 1 – 1 1/2 lb. ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups fat-free half and half (or regular)
- 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (use block cheese and grater)
- 1 (16 oz) jar your favorite spaghetti sauce or 2 1/2 cups homemade sauce
- 12 Cannelloni or Manicotti shells
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Brown ground beef in a medium skillet over medium heat. Break the meat into small pieces with the side of the spoon as it cooks. Drain off any grease as it finishes cooking. Add onion, garlic, basil, salt and pepper to pan and return to heat. Stirring often allow onion to soften a bit and garlic to become fragrant. Remove pan from heat.
- In a saucepan melt the butter. Sprinke the butter with the flour to make a paste. Allow to cook for 1-2 minute to become slightly brown. Slowly pour in the half and half and continue stirring. Allow mixture to slightly reduce and become thicker. The sauce will coat a spoon while stirring. Remove pan from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
- Add the 2/3 rds of the cheese sauce to the meat and stir well. Taste and adjust spices as needed.
- Spread 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish and spread it to completely cover the bottom.
- Using a teaspoon fill the Cannelloni or Manicotti shells. Push the meat mixture into the shells 1/2 from each end to fully fill the tubes. Lay the pasta in the casserole dish so that they all fit in one pan.
- Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the pasta. Add 1/3 cup of water to the sauce jar and shake well. Pour the water over the pasta.
- Spread the remaining cheese sauce over the top of the casserole dish and then sprinkle with the Mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Check for tenderness of shells. Top should be browning.
- Remove pan from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.