Monday, April 30, 2012

Cold Cannelloni Stuffed with Goat Cheese

Some time ago, I saw in one of the French magazines a recipe for cold cheese-stuffed cannelloni. They were to be served more as a starter rather than a main dish. The whole thing looked very interesting and I always wanted to try this recipe one day.

This past Saturday I was invited for a lunch at our neighbors' place, later my son had a party for his basketball team, and just right after that we were having friends over for dinner. A very busy day and not much time for cooking, so I decided to prepare at least one dish that could be made ahead and served without any last-minute preparation. These cannelloni seemed a perfect idea, as something easy, yet original.

To make them, I used fresh lasagna sheets that my Giant recently started to carry. That was the most challenging part as the sheets should be soft but still keep their shape. For that reason you need to use a large pot to cook the pasta sheets in a large amount of water. If fresh lasagna pastry is not available in your shopping area, I believe that it can be made from the Barilla pasta sheets. Cooked sheets are cooled and stuffed with goat cheese, drizzled with walnut oil and balsamic vinegar, and served with baby lettuce leaves.

It was my kind of dish. I loved it! Simple but well defined thanks to the goat cheese, walnuts, and vinegar. Because of its true simplicity to make this dish right it is important to use best quality ingredients--aged balsamic glaze (or vinegar) of Modena and roasted walnut oil.

I think that no one, especially those who like me love all kind of pasta and Italian cuisine, would resist these cold cannelloni.

Cold Goat Cheese-Stuffed Cannelloni
(Serves six)

12 lasagna sheets, about 2 inches by 4 inches in size,
6 oz goat cheese at room temperature,
1 shallot, very finely chopped,
1/4 cup roasted walnuts, crushed,
12 tsp aged balsamic vinegar of Modena (about one tsp per serving) or if you have available the glaze made with the vinegar of Modena,
12 tsp roasted walnut oil,
freshly coarsely ground black pepper,
3 cups of baby lettuce

1. In a large pot boil water with one tbsp of salt. Put in pasta sheets and cook them making sure that they do not stick to one another. That will take probably about 5 minutes--pasta should be soft but in perfect shape. Drain the cooked pasta sheets and rinse them with cold water. Spread each piece on a large plate to dry.
2. In a medium bowl place the soft goat cheese. Add chopped shallots and using a fork mix it together to create a soft spread.
3. Divide the cheese equally among the cooked sheets, spread it thinly on them and roll them up.

4. On individual plates put a handful of baby lettuce leaves and two cannelloni. Drizzle each portion with balsamic vinegar and walnut oil. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and finish with ground pepper.

Cannelloni taste best in room temperature, so if you prepared them earlier, take them out of the refrigerator two hours prior to serving and add the lettuce at the last moment.


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