out of the oven: shrimps & peas hidden in cannelloni

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I love cannelloni!
Just imagine the hot & bubbling mix of pasta & vegetables & meat or seafood covered in melted crispy cheese coming out of the oven… Remember how to attack the casserole in order to grab the 1st serving & transfer it onto a plate w/o any damage (it’s always easier when the 1st serving has left the casserole!).

Maybe it’s because a cannelloni dish is so easy & fast to prepare – maybe it’s because you can work w/ a large casserole of cannelloni & afterwards freeze the leftovers for another dinner. (Reheating in the microwave is always fine w/ cannelloni!)

On the other hand cannelloni are versatile: there is the classic version w/ minced meat for the filling & there is the more modern version w/ ricotta & spinach. You may add a classic béchamel sauce or a light tomato sauce…

…& you may create your very own cannelloni filled w/ whatever you like or whatever is available in your fridge resp. pantry.


For the record:
I’m not discussing any approach to homemade cannelloni i. e. preparing pasta from the scratch, roll out the pasta dough, cut out rectangular shapes, fill them, roll them up… I always work w/ ready to use cannelloni from my trusted food store which don’t need any precooking.
(…& it’s the same w/ lasagne!)


Today I’ll try cannelloni w/ shrimps & peas in creamy ricotta for the filling – everything covered by a thick tomato sauce.



On top there is a layer of grated parmesan melted into the tomato sauce… at the same time creating a savory crust. So we get a mix of a rather delicate creamy filling w/ shrimps & peas – inside – and cheesy crispness – outside.

What do we need?



It’s just:

  • cannelloni
  • defrosted shrimps
  • frozen peas
  • ricotta
  • spring onions
  • garlic
  • crushed tomatoes (out of a can)
  • tomato purée (likewise)
  • dried Mediterranean herbs like thyme, oregano, sage & ground rosemary
  • parmesan – freshly grated.

We start chopping the spring onions, pressing the garlic & chopping the shrimps.



All marches in a pan & we start frying in some olive oil. Finally – towards the end – we add the frozen peas. For the frying session think about 10 – 15 min.

Afterwards let the mess cool down in a separate bowl. (Drain the water – there’s always some water from the shrimps & the peas…)



For the freshly grated parmesan we start grating…



For the sauce we just mix the crushed tomatoes, the tomato purée & the herbs. Add a pinch of sugar.

…& now (latest!): Don’t forget to preheat the oven to 175° C w/ fan!



Mix the fried mess w/ the ricotta. It should be a creamy filling – not too dry, not too runny.



Now we are ready for the big action: filling the cannelloni.

  • Cover the bottom of the casserole w/ tomato sauce.
  • Fill each piece of cannelloni by pressing the tube into the mess – repeatedly… & the mess will walk upwards by itself.
  • Line the cannelloni in the casserole.



Finally cover all cannelloni w/ tomato sauce.

…& at last sprinkle grated parmesan on top – generously.



Ready for the preheated oven!



…& about 30 min later: voilà!





out of the oven: shrimps & peas hidden in cannelloni
Once more cannelloni: when getting it right i. e. the somewhat sticky feeling of the filling all the cannelloni are easy to fill. Don’t be cheap with shrimps. The filling is delicate in flavour, but the rich crispy parmesan crust is rather savory.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
for the filling:
  • 300 g shrimps
  • 100 g peas frozen
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 250 g ricotta
  • 11-12 cannelloni
for the sauce:
  • 400 g crushed tomatoes
  • 70 g tomato puree 1 can
  • a pinch of sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dried mixed Mediterranean herbs
on top:
  • 50 - 75 g parmesan
  • a casserole
  • a cheese grater
how to:
  • Preheat the oven to 175° C w/ fan.
  • Press the garlic.
  • Chop the spring onions.
  • Chop the shrimps.
  • Fry everything in some olive oil until soft (10 - 15 min). During the last 5 min add the frozen peas.
  • Let it cool & drain the water - there always is some from the shrimps & the press..
  • Mix w/ ricotta & add salt & pepper to taste.
  • Mix the crushed tomatoes, the tomato puree & the olive oil & the herbs - don’t forget a pinch of sugar.
  • Grate the parmesan.
  • Fill the cannelloni.
  • Add some sauce on the bottom of the casserole.
  • Layer the filled cannelloni.
  • Add the rest of the sauce.
  • Sprinkle generously w/ grated parmesan.
  • Put in the oven for about 30 min.
Filling: It’s a lot of filling - enough for about 11-12 cannelloni. If your casserole (like mine!) doesn’t fit i. e. too small just reduce shrimps & peas (see below). I was a little too optimistic when preparing my filling!
Shrimps: 250 g shrimps are fine for about 8-9 cannelloni.
Peas: 75 g peas are fine for about 8-9 cannelloni.
Frozen shrimps: Defrost the shrimps properly before chopping.
Frozen peas: No defrosting necessary - just put them in the pan. You may use fresh peas when available. Fresh peas might need a little more time for cooking/frying.
Dried Mediterranean herbs: I used thyme, oregano, sage & ground rosemary. You may use whatever flavor you prefer or which herbs are available.
Parmesan: Parmesan is rather savoury - maybe you like some soft mozzarella more. When substituting think about a mozzarella ball of 125 g.
You may store leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days.
You may also freeze the cannelloni dish; reheat in the microwave.


(information on equipment)


You may serve each piece of cannelloni separately – if you like e. g. when you’re up to serve several courses during dinner & filled cannelloni are somewhat like a primo piatto.



Coming back to how to fill cannelloni…

  • The filling must be soft & smooth.
  • There shouldn’t be any chunks in the filling.
  • Take a piece of cannelloni & put it headfirst in the filling.
  • …into the filling: Repeat. Repeat. Repeat…
  • The soft filling will automatically go up & fill the piece of cannelloni by itself.
    I. e. you won’t need any spoons or a cone or even a piping bag…



However, it won’t work when the filling is too runny – which is unusual for any cannelloni filling. Also it won’t work if there are too many chunky pieces of meat or vegetables. (By experience: if you do a spinach & ricotta filling w/ long spinach leaves (the original leaves w/o any chopping) – forget this solution!).

If you work w/ fried minced meat make sure to add some tablespoons of tomato sauce (or béchamel sauce) to smooth the filling. For today’s cannelloni I used ricotta for smoothing. Liquid cream is also a fine solution.




The businesswoman w/ too many office hours thinks

Okay – the art of filling cannelloni is understood – & I don’t think I’ll use any other method i. e. I’ll always make sure to prepare a filling compatible w/ the approach.

For the sake of diversity: I just made another approach to cannelloni using cooked chicken breast (aka leftovers) finely minced (very finely minced!) w/ peas & liquid cream for the filling covered in tomato sauce w/ slices of mozzarella on top.




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keep it simple & be flexible. always.