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Cannelloni: Everything About the Shape

Are you familiar with cannolis? These sweet, cream-filled desserts are a staple in most italian bakeries. But did you know it has a savory counterpart? They’re called cannellonis, and they’re one of the most popular pasta shapes across the globe. 

Despite being tube-shaped, cannelloni, which in Italian means “large reeds,” is actually considered to be a type of lasagna. This pasta has always been a symbol of festivities all around Catalonia, where they are consumed during St. Stephen’s day. 

This article features everything that you need to know about the famous Cannelloni and some recipes you may try out for your next family gathering. Let’s get into it! 

Cannelloni: Origin and Meaning

Here’s a table with essential facts about Cannelloni: 

Pasta Shape:Cannelloni
Pasta Type:Tube-shaped Pasta
Length:Around 7 cm (2.8 in)
Width:Around 2 cm (0.8 in)
Meaning:Italian term for “Large Reeds” or “Big Reeds”
Synonyms:Cannaciotti, canneroncini, canneroni
Similar Shapes:Penne, Rigatoni, Manicotti

Where Did Cannelloni Originate?

Due to its popularity, a lot of regions in Italy try to stake their claim on this pasta. This pasta is commonly found in central Italy, but variants of it exist in Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, as well as Rome, Naples, and Sicily.

Traditionally, cannelloni is formed by rolling the pasta dough extremely flat and thin, cutting it into squares, filling it up with your stuffing of choice, and then finally rolling it up. It is then topped with sauce and cheese, then baked. 

In modern times, mass-produced cannelloni is formed like most dry pastas, by extruding the dough onto a die. 

What Does Cannelloni Mean?

The word “cannelloni” means “large reeds” or “big reeds.” It is famous for being mostly stuffed with meat, cheese, and vegetables, topped with sauce and herbs. However, as newer versions of cannelloni began to emerge, the most famous vegetarian version of this pasta usually consists of classic ricotta and spinach as its filling. 

At present, this pasta is a prime and traditional staple dish prepared on various occasions across the world. From New Year’s Eve, weddings, Christmas dinners, or just family gatherings—these pastas definitely make a scrumptiously studded dish! 

What Is the Difference Between Cannelloni and Manicotti?

Cannelloni and Manicotti are commonly mistaken because of being both stuffed and tubular. As the famous cannelloni traveled across the globe, different versions surfaced.  

In simpler terms, manicotti is the American version of cannelloni. The major difference between the two lies in their structure and texture. The cannelloni pasta structure is smooth, with its tube being smaller and thinner in terms of structure. Meanwhile, the manicotti pasta has a rigid texture with a larger and thicker tube structure. It also has pointed ends as opposed to cannelloni’s flat edges. 

While many restaurants used interchangeably both cannelloni and manicotti, these two dishes remain distinctive and unique in their own way.

Traditional Dishes Suitable for Cannelloni Pasta

Here are some traditional dishes you can make with cannelloni pasta:

Spinach Ricotta Cannelloni

The most popular way to eat cannelloni is by stuffing it with a spinach and ricotta mixture, topping it off with tomato sauce and cheese, and then baking it in the oven until the cheese gets all melty. 

Beef Cannelloni

For a meatier version, try stuffing your cannelloni with minced beef and ragu. It then gets finished in a similar way: tomato sauce, cheese, oven. The simple switch to beef makes this a more filling meal.  

These simple but delicious dishes are just a few ways you can enjoy cannelloni pasta.  

Final Thoughts 

Cannelloni pasta is just one of those pasta shapes that you can’t miss. Its unique way of preparation makes it stand out among the rest of the tube-shaped pastas in the roster. 

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