I love canelones and they are a good holiday dish. In the USA, you would call them cannelloni, after the Italian version. My Grandma is the best at making them. She usually makes canelones with meat for our big and important family meal in January. To celebrate the Three Kings (the three wise men). She usually makes about 90 canelones!! She has a lot of patience and she is good at it. (She’s also had a lot more practice than me!) I will make these canelones with her when I go to Spain this Christmas. Like my Grandma always says, “It’s very healthy to be able to be with family, drinking and eating.” And that’s true.
Today, I made canelones with spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts. Delicious ,and a good way to make it if you have someone that doesn’t like to eat vegetables.
For the dough, I used that classic canelones dough that we use in Spain. If you can’t find it, you can use lasagna pasta. (Boil the lasagna pasta and cut it the size of the canelones. Each canelon is a square, approximately 4 inches x 4 inches.
Ingredients for 20 canelones:
- 1 box of 20 canelones
- approximately 1 lb spinach
- 1 pint of mushrooms, chopped to make it easier to cook (crimini or white mushrooms)
- about 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1 small onion
- 1/4 red bell pepper
- 1 clove chopped garlic
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- cheddar cheese
For the white sauce/ bechamel sauce:
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
Add 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of butter to a medium pan and place on low heat. The bottom of the pan should be entirely coated with butter. Once it’s melted, add 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour. Stir constantly until the flour is brown. Add 3/4 cup of milk and stir until everything has been incorporated (This is a béchamel sauce). If it looks very thick, add a little bit of milk. Add 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg or just a small pinch (nutmeg has a lot of flavor!).
For the canelones:
- Preheated the oven to 390 F (200 C)
- Boil the canelones following the directions on the box. Once it’s done, place the pasta on the counter or on a cutting board. The pasta shouldn’t touch each other.
- Grate the onion and the red bell pepper and cook on medium heat with olive oil. Cook it until the onion gets browned, then season it with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, on medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil, cook the spinach with a clove of chopped garlic and the mushrooms. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion mixture. Stir and let all of the flavors mix for about a minute.
- Add this mixture to a food processor or something similar and blend it (you might need to do this step in batches). Once its blended, add it to the pan and add the pine nuts. Stir until fully incorporated.
- Stuff the mixture in the middle of the canelone dough, once done, roll it up and transfer to a baking sheet.
- Once the baking dish has all the canelones, add some of the white sauce, and grated cheddar cheese on top.
- Bake for about 10 minutes on 390 F and then broil it for 2 minutes to brown the cheese.
- Optional: Sometime after removing the canelones from the oven, you won’t have a lot of white sauce, I always make a little more and I add some to the plate first and I also fill an extra gravy boat, so everyone can add a little more on their own. It’s delicious! Good bread is also good to serve with and to dip into the sauce.
Ready to serve! Bon profit!