Friday, March 27, 2009


is a nickname that was given to me by a dear friend years ago. It started after we had some friends over for dinner twice within a short amount of time. Apparently I made an Italian-type of dish both times--which wasn't the best planning on my part. The second evening we had them over for dinner, this Cannelloni is the dish I served. I've was coined Mama Hollioni that night; the nickname stuck and I have been called that ever since.

This is my mom's recipe, and although both she and I are 100% German, people continually ask us if we are Italian after tasting this recipe. It is a high maintenance dish to make with multiple steps and a sinkful of dirty dishes when you are done, but you will be well rewarded for your effort. Trust me! It is a bit too much preparation for a weekday dinner in my opinion, but it is the perfect dish for when you have invited over company or when you are making a meal for another family.


1-10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic
Fresh ground pepper
1 pound Italian Seasoned ground turkey
5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons half and half
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon oregano

White Sauce
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 jars meatless spaghetti sauce, traditional sauce with no extra ingredients
Fresh Parmesan cheese
12-14 manicotti shells


1. When spinach is completely thawed, take a handful of spinach at a time and squeeze out all the liquid from each handful. Repeat until all the spinach has the liquid removed. Set spinach aside.

2. Heat olive oil in nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Crumble spinach into onion-garlic mixture into saute pan, breaking apart any large clumps of spinach before adding to pan. Mix thoroughly and saute for an additional 3 minutes, just enough to ensure any moisture from spinach has been eliminated. (Any water or liquid in the spinach will produce runny cannelloni.) Transfer spinach-onion mixture to large mixing bowl. Set aside.

4. Return nonstick pan to heat and add ground turkey. Brown turkey for about 8-10 minutes, or until no pink remains. Drain fat. Transfer to bowl with spinach-onion mixture.

5. Add parmesan cheese, eggs, half and half, oregano, salt, and pepper to bowl with turkey and spinach-onion mixture. Mix until all ingredients are equally distributed.

6. Place manicotti noodles in pot of boiling water. Cook for 3-4 minutes. This will be different from the cooking directions on the box of manicotti. It is difficult to stuff noddles if they are cooked al dente.

7. Remove noodles from boiling water with slotted spoon and place on wax paper to allow to cool. (I was making a double batch so I have more noodles in this photo than are necessary.)

TO MAKE WHITE SAUCE: 1. Melt butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from heat.

2. Stir in flour and mix well. Return to heat. Mix together milk, half and half, salt, and pepper; slowly add small quantities of milk mixture. Stir continuously until milk mixture is fully incorporated before adding more milk. Adding milk too quickly will result in a lumpy sauce. Continue adding small quantities of milk mixture until all milk is incorporated.

3. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened into yogurt-like consistency. Remove from heat. Set aside.

TO ASSEMBLE: 1. Stuff each manicotti noddle with turkey-spinach mixture until noodle is filled from end to end.

2. Place noodles in baking pan. It is best to use a 9 x 13 baking pan; however, only 10 noodles should be used per pan. If the noodles are pushed too close together, the sauce is not distributed evenly when serving....and the sauce is what makes the Cannelloni amazing, in my opinion. (When making a single batch, I use one 9 x 13 pan, and one round 9-inch pan--because that is what I have.)

3. Top with approximately one jar of spaghetti sauce, or until each manicotti noddle is completely covered.

4. Evenly distribute all of the white sauce over the spaghetti sauce.

5. Top again with a jar of spaghetti sauce. Lightly sprinkle with parmesan cheese, oregano, salt, and pepper, if desired.

6. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until sides are bubbly. Add 10 additional minutes to baking time if cannelloni is not at room temperature at onset of baking.

Yields: 7-8 servings. Each manicotti noodle with sauce contains: 382 Calories; Total Fat 13.5g; Saturated Fat 5.8g; Cholesterol 102mg; Sodium 3568mg; Total Carbohydrates 47.5g; Dietary Fiber 1.8g; Sugars 1.1g; Protein 18.4g; Vitamin A 44%; Vitamin C 12%; Calcium 17%; Iron 21%


Lainie said...

Hey! I just realized you have a signature dish!!!

Chiming in to say this fantabulous! We fight for leftovers and the thought of having this brought to my house almost makes me want to sign up for another surgery. Almost.

Soooo good. Sooooo worth the effort.

And yes, forever in our hearts and minds you will be: Mama Hollioni

Perhaps I shall write an Ode to you...

Mama Hollinoni, Mama Hollioni
Maker of yummy things
Like a pan of cannelloni.

Saucy and spicy.
And it is so nutritious.

And you are a dear friend
Simply sweet and dare I say...



Four For France said...

I made this for Chandler and David's combined birthday dinner--it was awesome!