Thursday, July 14, 2011

Duck and Spinach Cannelloni

pasta 021

Many years ago in a country far, far away, The Monkey grew up in South Wales, close to a famed restaurant called The Walnut Tree. The chef/owner at the time, Franco Taruschio, was renowned both locally and nationally for his pasta dishes, and his collection of 100 great pasta dishes has become a favorite in our household. So when Steph of challenged the Daring Cooks to make homemade pasta, we immediately thought of Franco. We made a recipe based on his Lasagne con Sugo d’Anitra (lasagne with duck sauce), but adapted it for cannelloni based on Mrs.Monkeyshines’ predilection for this pasta form factor. Also, our pasta was based on Jamie Oliver’s recipe: however instead of making it in the food processor as usual, we adhered to the challenge stipulation of not using any sort of motorized accessory. (Our basic introduction to pasta making can be found here.) We also wanted to use some Asian spinach, which has appeared at our local farmers’ market this year and has a really rich spinachy flavor.


For the pasta (makes enough for leftovers):
3 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour

For the duck sauce:
1 duck breast
2 oz bacon, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup white vermouth
1/2 large bunch spinach, shredded
2 1/2 oz tomato puree
fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste

For the veloute sauce:
1 oz flour
1 oz butter
1/2 pint chicken stock

parmesan cheese for topping

Start by making the duck sauce. Sear the duck breast, starting skin side down and pouring off/reserving the duck fat that is rendered. When the skin starts to get crispy, turn over and cook the other side, then remove to a plate and mince finely. Using some of the reserved duck fat, render the diced bacon then add the diced carrot, onion and celery to make a mirepoix. When the vegetables are soft, add back the duck meat and the vermouth, and cook until the liquid is reduced. Add the tomato puree and enough water to make a thick sauce, then reduce to a paste (about 15 minutes). Add the spinach and cook until it’s wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

pasta 009

For the veloute sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes. Gradually add the broth and mix in, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from forming.

To make the pasta, we followed our basic recipe but this time used our hands instead of the food processor to mix the ingredients together. We have the photos to prove it!


From top: Eggs and flour ready to mix; mixing the dough; kneading the dough; rolling out the pasta; cutting into cannelloni-sized squares

To assemble the lasagne: Cook each sheet in boiling water for a few seconds, then quench under cold water. Roll up a few spoonfuls of the duck and spinach filling in each square, and pack them into a pre-greased baking tray. Pour the sauce over and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.


From top: Cooking and cooling the noodles; rolling the lasagne; assembling the lasagne

Bake in a 400ºF oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling; remove and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


  1. It looks like an Italian version of enchiladas! I had to do a double take to make sure it was pasta and not tortillas. Either way, it looks fantastic!

  2. This looks totally wild! I love the mix of pasta and duck - definitely something that would impress guests! Great job!