I love me some celebrity gossip!! I read People Magazine and I watch E! News every day. Giuliana (Depandi) Rancic is one of the hosts of E! News. She is married to Bill Rancic (who was the winner of the first season of The Apprentice). They were in one of my Paula Deen magazines and they shared this recipe for Guilana's mother's cannelloni. The Depandi's are Italians, so I was excited to try a true authentic cannelloni recipe. Now that I have fresh basil growing, it was the perfect time to try it.
I am NOT very good at making cannelloni. How in the world do you get the filling inside the shell without ripping it? Please, let me know. I think I ripped every one of my shells, but it still turned out fine. I just put them really close to each other in the baking dish and that kept the filling from oozing out.
Mama DePandi's Cannelloni
adapted from: Giuliana and Bill Rancic
(as seen in Paula Deen Magazine Jan/Feb 2010)
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 green pepper, chopped, opt.
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. Italian seasoning, opt.
1 tsp. garlic powder, opt.
1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
2 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 Lb. ground beef, cooked
1 (16 oz.) pkg. shredded Mozzarella
1 (15 oz.) container whole milk Ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1 (8 oz.) box cannelloni shells, cooked
Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and green pepper and cook 4-6 minutes or until tender. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cooked ground beef, Mozzarella, Ricotta, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper along with 4 Tablespoons of the sauce mixture. Stuff each cannelloni shell and place in a single layer in a greased baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves: 6-8 people.
Jenn's Notes: I am used to the jam-packed flavor of My Spaghetti Sauce, so I had to add a little extra flavor to this dish. The green pepper, Italian seasoning and the garlic powder were not part of the original recipe, but I felt like it needed a little extra flavor with the spices and I added the peppers, well because, I add peppers to everything!