Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 26, 2021
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Cannelloni al Radicchio

Radicchio's signature bitterness melts away into a sweet nuttiness and its texture turns velvety when cooked.

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced

2 heads radicchio, quartered through the stem end, cored and finely shredded

Kosher or fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ c. (340 g) whole cow’s milk ricotta cheese, drained

8 oz (225 g) fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small dice

1 batch fresh egg pasta dough cut into lasagne noodles (If you don’t make your own, you can purchase fresh noodles at any Italian grocer with a pasta counter. Store-bought dried cannelloni or dried lasagne noodles may be substituted for the fresh ones. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cooking.

1 batch béchamel sauce (recipe follows), heated to a simmer

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 ½ c. (170 g) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

¼ cup (30 g) coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)

Warm the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan placed over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir to coat them with the oil. Sauté, stirring from time to time, for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and translucent but not browned. Add the radicchio and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a generous grind of pepper. Cover the pan, raise the heat to medium-high, and cook the radicchio for about 8 minutes, or until wilted. Uncover the pan and use tongs to toss the radicchio. Cook for another minute or two, or until the radicchio is purple-brown, wilted and just tender. Remove from the heat and let the radicchio cool to room temperature in the pan. Remove a handful of the radicchio and set it aside to garnish the cannelloni.

In a large bowl, work the ricotta with a fork until it is creamy. Fold in the mozzarella. Add the radicchio in the frying pan to the cheese mixture and fold to distribute evenly.

Spread a clean tablecloth or several clean dish/tea towels on a clean, flat surface near the stove. Have ready the uncooked pasta, the béchamel, and the radicchio-cheese filling. Place a large bowl filled with ice water near the stove for briefly immersing the cooked lasagne noodles to remove excess starch.

Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Lightly coat two 8-by-12-inch (20-by-30.5-cm) baking dishes with the butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously. Carefully drop in 4 or 5 lasagne noodles, taking care not to crowd the pot. Boil the pasta for about 1 minute; fresh pasta cooks quickly and the lasagne noodles should be slightly underdone. Use a large skimmer to remove the lasagne noodles from the pot and gently immerse them in the bowl of ice water. Use the skimmer to remove the noodles; let them drip and then spread them out on the tablecloth. Continue to cook, cool and spread out the lasagne noodles until you have cooked and cooled all of them all.

Spread a thick layer of béchamel sauce (about ¾ cup/180 millilitres per dish) in the bottom of each prepared baking dish.

Place 1 lasagne rectangle on a clean work surface. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the radicchio-cheese filling onto the centre, and spread it out with the back of the spoon, leaving a border all around. Roll up the pasta rectangle, cigar style, and place it, seam side down, in one of the prepared baking dishes. Continue to fill and roll the cannelloni, arranging 10 cannelloni in each dish.

Divide the remaining béchamel between the 2 baking dishes, spreading it over the filled cannelloni. Strew a little of the reserved radicchio over the top in uneven clumps. Sprinkle the Parmigiano cheese and then the walnuts, if using, over the cannelloni. Cover the dishes with aluminum foil.

Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the cheese and béchamel sauce are bubbly and the top is golden brown. Serve the cannelloni piping hot from the oven. Makes 20 cannelloni; 10 first-course servings or 5 to 6 main-course servings

Simplify: The radicchio filling may be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days. If you make your own lasagne noodles, they can be frozen (before cooking) for up to 1 month.

Béchamel Sauce

3 c. (720 ml) whole or 2-percent milk

4 Tbsp. (55 g) unsalted butter

¼ c. (30 g) unbleached all-purpose/plain flour

1 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Do not let it boil over. Remove the pan from the heat.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot milk in driblets, whisking constantly and taking care to avoid lumps and scorching. When all of the milk has been added, cook the sauce, stirring it frequently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, for 10 to 13 minutes, or until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Season with the salt, pepper to taste, and the nutmeg, and remove from the heat. Makes about 3 cups (720 ml).

The béchamel may be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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