Monday, April 14, 2014

Stuffed Beef Cannelloni -- Low Carb & Grain Free

This evening I made Stuffed Beef Cannelloni for dinner. To get a head start on it, I browned the ground beef last night and simmered and reduced the sauce to make a thick meaty ragout filling (reducing until almost all of the liquid was gone so the filling isn't wet). I used my tortilla/noodle recipe to make crepe style cannelloni. These can easily be made in advance and don't take very long to make. If making this for a weeknight meal, it would be a great time saver to make the crepes in advance and refrigerate until ready to use. I had originally planned to make my own sauce for the ragout but to save time, used a good no sugar jarred sauce instead (my favorites are Rao's, DelGrosso, and Mezzetta). If you make the cannelloni (tortilla/crepes) ahead of time as well as the thick meat filling/ragout, this meal is a snap to put together on a work night and just pop in the oven. This dish consists of a thick meaty ragout filling with spinach and mozzarella wrapped up in a crepe-like bundle. It's topped with a light layer of pasta sauce and then a final layer of bechamel sauce (white sauce). It turned out great. I snapped a few photos for you to see below. Enjoy!

Stuffed Beef Cannelloni

  • 1-1/2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 5 cups pasta sauce, no sugar added (about 1-1/2 26-ounce jars or homemade)
  • 1 8-ounce bag fresh baby spinach, slightly wilted
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 8-inch tortilla/noodles (crepe style cannelloni)
  • Bechamel sauce (recipe below)
  • Extra pasta sauce, optional (for serving)
      Bechamel Sauce
  • 1 lb. ricotta
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray or oil a 9" x 13" shallow casserole or baking dish with olive oil.

In a medium stockpot, cook ground beef over medium high heat, breaking it up and crumbling into small pieces with a large spoon or spatula until browned. Add 2-1/2 cups pasta sauce and simmer uncovered until sauce is reduced and meat sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes, until most of the liquid is evaporated. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. Stir in mozzarella cheese.

While meat sauce is cooling, prepare bechamel sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk ricotta, eggs, 1/2  cup Parmesan, and nutmeg together until smooth and well blended.

Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce (about 1/2 cup) in bottom of casserole dish. Divide and place about 1/3 cup thick meat sauce in center of each tortilla/crepe. Top with about 1 tablespoon of wilted spinach. Roll cannelloni up, tucking ends to make a tight bundle. Place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat with remaining cannelloni until casserole dish is filled, tucking snugly together. Spoon a thin layer of pasta sauce over top of cannelloni (about 1 cup). Spread bechamel sauce over top and sprinkle with additional grated Parmesan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until bubbly. If additional browning is desired, run under broiler for a few minutes. Let sit about 10 minutes before serving. Top with additional pasta sauce, if desired. 



  1. Thank you so much for your blog and your wonderful efforts. I just started the Wheat Belly way and use your blog to stay motivated and inspired. You and your husband are the perfect examples of working to stay on the lifestyle and make it fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you....From Ken in North Carolina.

  2. Hi GGC,

    I used to *love* manicotti, which I think is just a tube-shaped pasta form of cannelloni. I also sometimes made it with the large shell pasta for variety. And that reminds me of something else I used to stuff into large pasta ... a "southwest" version with Tex-Mex spicing. Haven't thought about these dishes in a *long* time ... but I sure am now! Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration! Your tortillas/crepes are proving to be very versatile, indeed!

  3. Hi CyberSis!

    Yes, I also used to use the tube shaped pasta and jumbo shells! The shells were MUCH easier to stuff than those tubes were! I bet the southwest version is delicious and could easily be recreated. I continue to find different ways to use them. You are more than welcome. P.S. - We are suppose to have a freeze tonight. It's 40 now but *feels* like 34 with the wind chill. They say we'll get to or below freezing tonight. To think it got to 80 degrees the last couple of days and we had actually worn shorts and flip flops already! I switched back to turtleneck sweaters today and will again tomorrow -- might even need a coat! Is this not the craziest weather??? :-)

  4. Hi Ken,

    I'm so happy that you enjoy my blog and hope that it helps give you a few ideas to stick with Wheat Belly. Once you get past any wheat/sugar withdrawals after the first week or two and realize that you won't be hungry on this becomes easier. Also, once you see how well you really CAN eat without wheat, grains and sugar, you will be pretty amazed. Not sure if you have a Pinterest account or not, but even if you don't, you can still glance at my Pinterest page that has the smaller thumbnail photos of almost all of the foods I've eaten since I started Wheat Belly (it will be 2 years in a few months). There are over 500 posts. If you see a picture of something that looks good, if you click on it, it takes you to the link on my blog where the recipe is. It might give you a quicker way to review some of the recipes I've made -- there are 538 pictures and links on that board! In case you are interested, here is the link to my "Favorite Recipes by Gourmet Girl Cooks":

  5. Hi GGC,

    Yeah ... you could say crazy weather alright. After the furious rainstorm on Sat. night (some people even had a couple inches of hail, uprooted trees, flying shingles, and power outages) we were windy and 80 degrees yesterday and in the 20's today. We also finally broke our all-time record for the most snow ever in a year. The previous record of 93.6 inches was set in 1880. Last night we got enough snow to put us well over at 94.8! After putting up with all that snow all winter long we figured we may as well break the record while we were at it. It was nip and tuck for a while but when we awoke this a.m. we were happy to learn that the record had been *shattered* during the night! Lots of rush-hour fender-benders on the freeways to put a nice bow on it, too!

  6. Hi CyberSis!

    WOW!!! You have really had crazy weather for sure. I guess if you were going to get that close to the record for snowfall, it's good that you were able to break it. It would be a shame to get that close and not make it.

    Wow, you had an almost 60 degree temperature change -- this has been an interesting winter/spring hasn't it. Hope you didn't sustain any damage from the weather. :-)

  7. just made this for our easter dinner as the hams and turkey's were so huge decided to go for something else this year Chuck my brother said that dish was good and I had not really planned on him even trying one of my special dishes I may convert him yet. It was very good indeed but I made into two smaller casseroles. I found it easier to make the wraps in my cast iron pancake griddle rather than a skillet as much easier to turn. Mine didn't look as nice as yours but a good first try. Thanks so much for your recipes
    love this site.

  8. Hi AM Grey! I'm so happy you enjoyed this. The more you practice making them, the easier it becomes and the better you get at it. Fortunately, this is one of those kind of meals that it doesn't make much difference if the cannelloni crepes aren't perfect...they get rolled up and covered with sauce and cheese! Only the cook has to know! ;-)


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