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Kelly’s Cannelloni (Posted On: Monday, April 21, 2008)

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Imagine mouth-watering cannelloni made with fresh Sheep’s Milk Ricotta cheese, spinach, caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes!  Kelly Siskind, of the very popular Dags & Willow Fine Cheese & Gourmet Shop on Pine Street took time out of her very busy day to share this recipe with us so that we could give you the step-by-step easy to follow instructions to make this dish at home.

At the onset of the cooking session, Kelly had all of the ingredients pre-measured.  Smart!  Because it really made this recipe a breeze…something I recommend to all of you.


· 12 cannelloni shells*. 
· 500g fresh Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Cheese
· 500g frozen spinach, cooked, drained and chopped.  Note:  It is very important to drain and then squeeze out any excess water…squeeze hard…to get as much excess liquid out as possible before chopping.
· 1-½ onions caramelized.  Caramelized onion is not something you may have on hand but is easy to make.  See method below.
· 100g Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil.  Drained and chopped.
· 200g Pecorino Crontonese Sheep’s Milk Cheese grated.
· 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
· ¼ teaspoon pepper
· ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
· 1 egg
· 700ml of tomato sauce


· Cook cannelloni shells in large pot of boiling salted water in accordance with package instructions.  Watch your timer carefully. *Kelly used the ones that you pre-cook which are preferred for a superior tasting end product.  You can also make this recipe with the cannelloni shells that do not require pre-cooking but be careful…these shells can break easily if not handled with care.

· Meanwhile, in a large bowl, lightly beat the egg and then add in the Ricotta, spinach, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, about ¼ of the Pecorino cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

· Mix together well with your hands.  Take your rings off first and make sure you wash your hands.  If you think this is yucky, use a wooden spoon but it will take longer.

· Refresh cooked cannelloni shells in large bowl of cold water.  It’s important to use a large bowl of cold water to immerse the cooked cannelloni shells in as opposed to draining in a colander.  You want to stop the cooking process immediately.  Then drain off the excess water.

· Line casserole dish with thin layer of tomato sauce.  Choose a casserole dish that will let you snuggly fit the cannelloni shells into.

· Stuff the cannelloni shells using a teaspoon, or you can use a piping bag if you have one on hand.  I recommend a piping bag if you are going to double or triple this recipe…but a regular teaspoon works just fine.  Don’t fret if one or two of your cannelloni shells split or break while stuffing…just keep on going…use them and gently place them in the dish…snugly up against the next shell.

· Place shells in dish and cover with the rest of the sauce.  Top with remaining grated cheese.

· Bake in oven at 350 degrees covered for the first 15 minutes and then uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.

Now comes the best part of all!  Enjoying this dish with your friends or family.  Serve this dish with a side salad of mixed greens and you’re set.   You can also easily double or triple this recipe if you are entertaining a larger group, perhaps for a garden party or a bridal or baby shower where you want to ensure that as the hostess you’ve set out to impress the guests.  On that note, you can also make this recipe in advance and then reheat in the oven. 

Lastly, I recommend that either yourself or a helper plate this dish for your guests.  Because of the delicate nature of cooked cannelloni shells, covered in a blanket of tomato sauce, it can be difficult to determine where each cannelloni starts and stops…you don’t want an over-eager buffet participant to cut into this dish like common lasagna.  The exquisite flavour of this dish, essentially cannelloni – kicked up to the nines with fantastic and flavourul ingredients - demands a bit of forethought and attention in the presentation.

Caramelized Onions

You’ll need about 1-½ yellow onions for this recipe.  Peel and slice the onions very thin and using a non-stick skillet over a medium low heat melt approx ½ tablespoon of unsalted butter.  Add onions and sprinkle with about ½ teaspoon of sugar and cook for approx. one hour.  Add a tablespoon of water at a time if pan looks like it is drying out.  It is really important not to rush this process and to ensure your heat is really medium low.

All of the ingredients for this recipe are available at Dags & Willow with the exception of the spinach and caramelized onion.

Fresh Sheep’s Milk Ricotta

This exceptional product is available on order from Dags & Willow.  A 500g tub is $9.75 and a 1 Kg tub is $18.75. If you would like to be put on the order list for this cheese, please e-mail Kelly and Stephen directly at so you can be included in their next order.

You can also substitute with just regular Ricotta cheese, but it won’t give you the same exceptional results and silky texture.

Pecorino Crontonese Sheep’s Milk Cheese from Italy

At first, I thought this cheese was fresh grated Parmesan.  Not so.  You really notice the difference in the aroma and flavour of the finished dish.  It’s worth your while to investigate this very flavourful cheese where a little goes a long way.

Dags & Willow Fine Cheese & Gourmet Shop

Boasting over 100 varieties of cheese from around the globe, fresh prepared foods and gourmet products, Dags & Willow Fine Cheese and Gourmet Shop is the perfect destination spot for any food lover. Bagels and breads are baked fresh daily and there is always a selection of delicious wraps, salads and main courses to take home. They can also help you with all of your entertaining needs -- check out their catering menu to order food for any occasion. If a thoughtful gift is needed for that special hard-to-buy-for person, or food-loving individual, Dags & Willow is the perfect place to purchase a unique gift from their selection of gourmet products, giftware, custom gift baskets, gift certificates and one-of-a-kind cheese boards.

Dags & Willow is located at 60 Pine Street in Downtown Collingwood (across the street from the Loblaw parking lot).  Owned by partners Kelly Siskind and Steven Epstein, they have worked very hard to make this venture a huge success.  As a result, they have very loyal customers and loyal and committed staff.

If you have any questions about this recipe, please contact Kelly directly.  They also offer a great e-mail newsletter so if you want to be part of their mailing list e-mail them at

Dags & Willow
60 Pine Street
Collingwood, Ontario
L9Y 2N7




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