Cannelloni are often filled with rich beef or veal mixtures, but this lighter version uses chicken with fresh vegetables. The chicken and ricotta cannelloni can be assembled early in the day, and left in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.
Source: Cook Smart for a Healthy Heart, Reader’s Digest Canada
To make the sauce, pour the milk into a heavy-based pan. Add the onion, bay leaf, nutmeg and pepper. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, cover and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the chicken until white and crumbly. Set aside to cool slightly.
Place the diced red pepper, leek and frozen peas in a heatproof bowl, pour in enough boiling water to cover them and leave for 30 seconds. Drain the vegetables well.
Beat the ricotta, mascarpone and egg together, then mix in the chicken, the drained vegetables, herbs and pepper.
Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the flavourings from the cool milk. Whisking constantly, sprinkle the flour into the milk. When incorporated, return the pan to medium heat and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, whisking frequently, for about 3 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Spread a layer of sauce on the bottom of a 30 x 20 cm (13 x 9 in.) ovenproof dish. Use a teaspoon to fill the cannelloni with the chicken mixture. Arrange in a single layer on the sauce in the dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over. For the topping, mix together the breadcrumbs and Parmesan and sprinkle over the chicken and ricotta cannelloni. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until the topping is golden and the sauce bubbling. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Per serving: 447 calories, 32 g protein, 17 g total fat, 9 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 43 g total carbohydrate, 13 g sugars, 3 g fibre, 372 mg sodium
Adding vegetables to cannelloni fillings will “stretch” a small quantity of protein food, such as chicken. Frozen vegetables are better than canned vegetables as they retain more vitamins. However, when fresh or frozen vegetables are not available, use canned vegetables to contribute fibre, flavour and bulk.