Chicken Cannelloni Margherita – Cheesy pasta rolls baked on a bed of tomato sauce and filled with a combination of creamy ricotta, chicken, garlic and herbs. Fantastic comfort food.
Our family loves a good baked pasta dish and this Margherita version of Chicken Cannelloni is one of our favourites, not just because of all that delicious cheesy goodness on top but because this one is so simple to make.
It relies on only a few simple ingredients for the bright, fresh classic Margherita flavour combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella. No canned tomatoes here, the simple sauce is made from from fresh tomatoes and garlic quickly sautéed together in a pan.
The chicken is also quickly stir fried then mixed with some rich ricotta cheese and basil to create the filling for the cannelloni. We like to roll up fresh lasagna sheets rather than stuff cannelloni tubes because it’s much faster and easier but you can use the pasta tubes as directed on the box if you prefer.
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- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 8 large ripe tomatoes diced
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp crushed chili sauce or chili flakes
- salt and pepper to season
- 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts diced small
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper to season
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 8 fresh lasagna sheets
- 12 ounces mozzarella cheese grated
- about a dozen basil leaves
Saute the garlic in the oil over medium heat for just a minute before adding the tomatoes, brown sugar, chili sauce, salt, pepper.
Continue to cook until the tomatoes soften and the compote reduces to a chunky jam-like consistency. Add the balsamic vinegar in the final minute or two of cooking.
Stir fry the chicken and garlic in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Do not over cook, remember, the chicken will be going back into the oven. If you overcook it at this stage it will be very dry after being baked.
Set aside to cool for 10 or 15 minutes then add the basil, ricotta, egg yolks, nutmeg and Parmesan cheese.
To prepare the cannelloni
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. If your lasagna sheets are very large you can cut them in half. sheets about 6×6 inches is about right but you can make almost any size work. If the sheets are too stiff, just soak them in warm water for a few minutes until they soften sufficiently to roll.
You will need 2 8x8 inch baking dishes or a large baking dish of the equivalent size.. Spoon a thin layer of the sauce to cover the bottom of the pan/s.
Spoon 1/8 of the filling onto each lasagna sheet and gently roll the sheet up into a tube about an inch thick. I find spooning the filling onto the center of the sheet and then rolling works best. As you roll. the filling disperses throughout the pasta tube you are forming.
Place the cannelloni in the pan and cover with the remaining sauce, a layer of basil leaves and then sprinkle on the grated mozzarella evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes until the sauce bubbles and the cheese is melted and begins to brown.
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