The Amalfi Coast
Helen Cathcart

The trick with cannelloni, as far as I am concerned, is to think about the dish you’re going to serve it in and try to plan out how to cut and fill the pasta. Pasta swells by 30 per cent when cooked so you’ll need to cut your pasta according to the size of the dish. I have given instructions for my lasagne dish but you could just as well cut the pasta sheets in half and make more small rolls. Cannelloni freezes well so I often double the recipe quantities and make two trays. The ragù uses strong-flavoured Italian sausages with no added rusk. If you can’t find them, use diced salami or an end of leg of prosciutto (all of these are usually available from Italian delis).


Quantity Ingredient
1 quantity Fresh pasta
1 quantity Winter tomato sauce
or 1 quantity Our favourite tomato sauce

For the ragù

Quantity Ingredient
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 spring rosemary
300g coarse minced beef
200g italian sausages, salami or prosciutto end
200ml red wine
2 tablepoons tomato puree
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tabespoons ricotta

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
basil oil or olive oil for drizzling (optional)
shavings of parmesan or grana padano
a few basil leaves, to garnish


  1. First, make the ragù. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the vegetables with the garlic, bay leaves and rosemary for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Add the meats and brown them well. Allow any meat juices to evaporate before adding the wine and tomato purée. Cook the ragù for about 1 hour over a low heat, adding a little water if the sauce looks dry. Taste and add seasoning if necessary. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the sauce to cool. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the ricotta and refrigerate.
  2. Meanwhile, make the pasta. Roll the dough through a pasta machine so that its width spans the machine, which is usually about 14 cm. Put it through twice on the stop before last on the machine so that it is neither too thick nor too thin that it will fall apart. (The last setting makes the thinnest pasta but this is too fragile for cannelloni.) Cut the pasta into 11 cm lengths. You should end up with around 10–12 rectangles of pasta measuring 14 × 11 cm and some offcuts.
  3. Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and spread out 2 clean tea towels on your work surface. Cook the pasta for 2–3 minutes until al dente, then carefully remove the sheets with tongs and put into the cold water. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, lay them out on the tea towels to drain.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Pour one-third of the tomato sauce into a lasagne dish measuring about 20 × 35 cm. To make up the cannelloni, put 3 tablespoons of the ragù along one long edge of a sheet of pasta. Roll it up like a cigar and lay it in the lasagne dish. Repeat with the remaining sheets until the ragù is used up. (Any leftover pasta sheets can be oiled then frozen flat in a stack and used another day.) Pour over enough of the remaining tomato sauce to cover the cannelloni and drizzle over a little basil oil or olive oil, if liked. (Again, any leftover tomato sauce can be kept for a pasta sauce or frozen for another day.)
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbling hot throughout. Either sprinkle the shaved Parmesan or Grana Padano over halfway through cooking time or when serving. Serve with basil leaves to garnish.

A note on oven temperatures:

  • It has been assumed throughout that a fan-forced oven is being used. Please adjust your temperatures to 20°C higher if you are using a conventional oven.
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