1 handful spinach leaves, chopped
4 crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground veal
1 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1 hot Italian sausage, casing removed
- 1 box oven ready Cannelloni shells (you will have some left over)
- 1 small can less-sodium tomato sauce
- 3 cups milk – I use 1%
- 4 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 4 tbsp light margarine
- Salt & Pepper, 1tbsp each
- Oregano, 1 tbsp
Begin by mixing the 3 meats together, and add to a frying pan with garlic and all vegetables. Brown slowly over medium-low heat, stirring often. You do not want the meat to cook unevenly.
Heat margarine over medium-low, then add flour. Whisk thoroughly, and add a bit of milk. Continue whisking. You should develop a thick paste.
Slowly add balance of milk, stirring constantly. Once you have developed a soup-like consistency, bring the sauce up to just below a boil. At this time you can add your seasonings, and whisk. Turn off heat, and add the can of tomato sauce, reserving 3 tablespoons. Whisk thoroughly, then cover your saucepan and remove from burner. Congratulations, you have now made a Rose Bechamel. This sauce is fine to sit for a few minutes while you assemble your cannelloni.
I prefer to use oven ready cannelloni noodles because it removes a step from an already involved cooking process. Preheat your oven to 350 and mix some (1/2 cup) of the rose bechamel sauce into your meat mixture, after draining excess fat from pan.
Use your reserved tomato sauce to lightly cover the bottom of your casserole dish. Begin assembling your cannelloni. The best method I have found to pack the meat mixture into the shells is to use my fingers, but you can also try using the end of a spoon.
You have meat leftover. This is good. Very, very good. Add the balance of your bechamel sauce to your meat mixture and stir.
Pour it over your cannelloni. Go on, do it. I sprinkle salt and (lots of) pepper over top. Make sure that there are no pasta shells visible, or they will not soften properly.
After 50 minutes, take it out of the oven.
Beautiful, isn’t it?