We love chickpeas so I thought it would be fun to make cannelloni with a vegetable and chickpea filling and for a first try I'm very pleased with how it turned out.
I started with:
2 large carrots
1 stalk of celery
5 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 a sweet onion (approx. 1/2 cup)
I grated the celery and carrot and then pureed all of it in my blender until it was completely smooth.
Next I added:
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 cup cooked spinach
2 cups of chickpeas
2 big bunches of fresh basil & parsley (approx. 3/4 cup each)
Salt and pepper to taste
Add all of the above ingredients into your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. I like to puree it like this so that the kids don't know exactly what vegetables I've put in because each of them has specific likes and dislikes and if they see something they don't like they want to pick it out. This way it just tastes good *grin*. If you like more texture then you can definitely blend it less and personally if it was just for me I wouldn't blend in the spinach. It all depends on who your food critics are! LOL
Note: I used dried chickpeas. If you want to try making your own place your 1 1/4 cups of dried chickpeas in a large glass bowl with 4 cups of water and let sit overnight until morning. When you wake up transfer your beans and water to a cooking pot and make sure you have at least twice to three times as much water as your beans. Bring to a raging boil and boil uncovered on high for 10 minutes. After that reduce the heat and simmer for 1-2 hours until tender. I find it usually takes closer to the 2 hours for mine to be fully cooked. You can also do a double or triple batch of beans all at one time and through the rest of it in the freezer portioned out for future meals to save on some cooking time next time!
With your chickpeas and vegetables all mixed together add 1 cup of shredded Pecorino Romano cheese or another one of your favorite cheeses and 1/2 a cup of brown bread crumbs, stir together and you're ready to start filling your cannelloni noodles :)
Oven ready cannelloni noodles have to be the easiest type to work with because you can fill them in their rigid uncooked form but you have to have enough liquid in the pot when you cook them for them to soften properly.
So to create my tomato cooking sauce I used two tins of regular tomato sauce plus two tinfuls of water to double the volume and then added the following herbs to create an italian flavor :)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon onion powder
In a large 10 x 13 greased baking dish pour in enough of your tomato sauce to thoroughly cover the base of the pan.
I have to tell you I came across the EASIEST way to fill your cannelloni noodle!! Put all of your filling into a large freezer bag, snip off one of the bottom corners and you have created the perfect piping bag for filling your noodles :)
If you place the tip of the bag right inside the noodle while you're filling it, the pressure as it gets nearer the top will actually push all of the filling down towards the bottom creating an even fill. Just keep the base of the noodle against the palm of your hand to prevent it from blowing out the bottom. Don't ask me how I know that *grin*.
Place each filled noodle into your tomato sauce leaving a little bit of space in between each for expansion...
and once all of your noodles are filled and in the pan, top with the remaining tomato sauce and a sprinkle more of cheese :)
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and serve up with some garlic bread and salad :) So yummy and the kids had second helpings so I'm calling this a smashing good success! LOL
PS. Looking for more yummy recipes?? Check out this week's Hearth and Soul blog hop :)