English-style Cannelloni

Cannelloni shells are filled with minced/ground beef flavoured with chopped onions and a little Bolognese sauce. They are cooked in a Bolognese sauce and topped with white sauce which is sprinkled with parmesan cheese. I have two recipes for cannelloni – one from North America and this one from England. The English recipe is a lighter recipe without the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and with a plain white sauce.

English-style Cannelloni

4 servings
  • Hands on time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes
  • Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 450 g (1 lb) minced/ground beef
  • 1 large jar Bolognese sauce
  • 12 cannelloni shells
  • 28 g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp, or ¼ stick)
  • 28 g (1 oz) flour (3 tbsp)
  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) milk (1¼ cups)
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 55 g (2 oz) Parmesan cheese (½ cup)


  • You will also need a 23 cm x 33 cm (9 x 12 inch) ovenproof dish lightly oiled
  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) (gas 4)
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet. Add the onion and cook over a low heat for 4–5 minutes until softened but not browned.
  • Then add the beef and brown over a medium heat for about 3–4 minutes. You want it to just start turning colour.
  • Now stir through 5 tablespoons of the sauce and then leave to cool for a few minutes.
  • Spoon a layer of sauce over the bottom of the ovenproof dish.
  • Next, fill the cannelloni shells with the meat and lay them on top of the sauce in a single layer.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the shells.
  • Next, to make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small pan, then tip in the flour and mix to a smooth paste.
  • Slowly add the milk, stirring continuously, until there is a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer, while stirring, until the sauce starts to thicken slightly.
  • Season and add a little grated nutmeg.
  • Pour the sauce over the cannelloni and then sprinkle over the cheese.
  • Bake for 40 minutes until the top begins to brown and the sauce is bubbling.
Print Recipe

Cannelloni Al Forno


A great recipe for a family meal.

Cannelloni Al Forno

4 servings
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus 25 minutes, if making the béchamel sauce from scratch
  • Cooking time: 55 minutes, plus 10 minutes, if making the béchamel sauce from scratch
  • Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed (minced)
  • 340 g (12 oz) minced/ground beef
  • 400 g can (½ × 28 oz can) chopped/diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 360 ml (12 fl oz) passata (1½ cups)
  • 16 cannelloni shells
  • béchamel sauce, made with 300 ml (10 fl oz) milk*
  • 115 g (4 oz) mozzarella cheese, grated/shredded (1 cup)
  • 55 g (2 oz) Parmesan, grated/ shredded (½ cup)


  • You will also need an ovenproof dish large enough to take 16 filled cannelloni shells in a single layer.


  • *In the UK you can buy packets of powered béchamel sauce to which you just add milk and heat. However, I can’t find this in Canada and so have to make the sauce from scratch, which is very easy. You will find the recipe below.

  • Method
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), (gas 4).

  • If making the béchamel sauce from scratch, make it now (see below).

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet then gently fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Now add the meat and brown over a medium heat for 5 minutes, breaking up any clumps as it browns.

  • Next stir in the tomatoes along with the seasonings. Gently simmer for 10 minutes.

  • If making the béchamel sauce from a packet, make it now, following the directions on the packet.

  • Pour half the passata into the ovenproof dish.

  • Fill the cannelloni shells with the meat mixture, placing them in the dish as you go.

  • Pasta filled with meat sauce
  • Now pour over the remaining passata and then top with the béchamel sauce.

  • Passata added
  • Adding béchamel sauce
  • Topped with béchamel

  • Sprinkle over the mozzarella and then the Parmesan covering the sauce completely.

  • Topped with cheese
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.

  • Tip
  • In UK the packets of grated mozzarella have no additional additives. In Canada the shredded mozzarella does. To avoid the additives, shred block mozzarella, popping it in the freezer for 30 minutes first to firm up. It will make shredding easier.
Print Recipe

Béchemal Sauce


  • 300 ml (10 fl oz) milk (1¼ cups), warmed
  • 1 shallot, skinned and sliced OR a small piece of onion skinned
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 stick celery, washed and thickly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 peppercorns
  • 28 g (1 oz) butter (2 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper


  • Pour the milk into a small pan. Add the vegetables, bay leaf, and peppercorns then bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover the pan and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Strain the milk, discarding the vegetables and flavourings.
  • Melt the butter in a clean pan and then, over a low heat, blend in the flour. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and then slowly add the milk, stirring continuously, until the mixture is smooth. Now return the pan to the heat and cook the sauce until it thickens, stirring continuously. Season to taste.
Print Recipe