13 November 2011

Goat-cheese cannelloni

Yesterday Walt made cannelloni stuffed with a mixture of fresh goat cheese and spinach. He cooked the cannelloni in some of the tomato sauce we made using tomatoes from our garden back in September.

My part in the whole enterprise was limited to kibitzing as he made the pasta going down to the Saturday morning market in Saint-Aignan to get a couple of fresh goat cheeses. When I say "fresh" I mean cheeses that haven't yet been aged. They still contain a lot of moisture and have the consistency, more or less of ricotta or cream cheese, but slightly less creamy and more crumbly.

The finished product

The man I usually buy goat cheeses from — frais, demi-sec, or sec as far as stages of "ripeness" go — is Monsieur Bouland, a neighbor who with his wife owns and operates the local ferme-auberge, a "farm inn", called La Lionnière. This is a holiday weekend, and I noticed that several of the regular market vendors were absent.

This is a local chèvre frais — a fresh goat cheese.

Luckily, the line at the other cheese vendor's stand wasn't as long as it usually is. This cheese stand sells a wide selection of cheeses of all kinds from all the regions of France (and beyond), including of course local goat cheeses. I waited less than five minutes before ordering three chèvres frais, fresh goat cheeses, for 2.20€ apiece. In the display counter I noticed a Normandy cow's milk cheese called a Neufchâtel for 2.50€, so I bought that too. All the cheeses were tempting, but I resisted...

Walt making pasta for the cannelloni

I stopped to say hello to the charcutière that I've been buying things from for more than eight years now — her stand is right across the way from the cheese vendor's. I didn't really need anything from the charcuterie (pork butcher's) but I figured I'd find something good there to take home for a meal next week, and there was no line.

All the sausages, smoked and salt-cured pork, hams, salamis, rillettes, and rillons looked really good, but again I resisted. Then I noticed a big bowl of choucroute, sauerkraut. I asked if there was any raw sauerkraut available. "Yes, this the first we've had this year" was the answer. Walt and I both love choucroute garnie, and I prefer to get raw sauerkraut and cook it myself rather than buy the pre-cooked stuff. Cooking it is a long process but it's worth it (more about this later, maybe).

Cannelloni stuffed with goat cheese and spinach

We of course chatted about the weather — yesterday was a sunny, warm day that felt more like May than November. « Ce n'est pas normal, » said the charcutière. But then the weather in 2011 hasn't been normal at any time— warm and very dry all through the spring, very wet in July and August, and now warm and dry again in November. « Tout est déréglé » is what people are saying about weather patterns this year.

The only other stop I made at the market was a visit to the local mushroom lady's stand. She grows mushrooms in a cave in our village and sells them on Saturdays at the Saint-Aignan market. I can always find a use for nice fresh mushrooms like the ones she sells, so I almost always buy a pound of them (1.90€) when I go to the market, whether or not I have a specific dish in mind.

Arranged on a layer of tomato sauce

I had to get out of the market before temptation got the better of me. Besides, Walt was waiting for the goat cheese so he could make the filling for the cannelloni. When I got back home, he had nearly finished rolling out the pasta sheets using our pasta machine. You could use fresh lasagne noodles, or cooked ones, but Walt says making pasta is easy. He makes it look easy.

Ready for the oven

The filling for the cannelloni is about a pound of fresh goat cheese — or ricotta — mashed up with about half a pound of cooked spinach, finely chopped. Flavor additions include a few basil leaves — about the last ones of the season — and a minced clove of garlic, along with salt and pepper. That makes a thick paste that you can easily roll up inside a square of fresh pasta dough.

Escarole salad with walnuts and red beets
(Serve the beets on the side in case somebody doesn't like them.)

As you can see in the photos, there was enough of the goat cheese filling left so that we could dab some on the top of the cannelloni in the baking pan. It sort of melted but not too much and browned a little. Delicious. It was a nice lunch with an escarole salad made with both walnuts and beets, and with a little walnut oil in the vinaigrette dressing.


  1. That looks and sounds delicious. I wish I could use goat cheese so freely, but good goat cheese is too hard to come by here. I always bake my best bread when we are going to get goat cheese from the farm and we savor it.

    Yes, please tell us about the sauerkraut. We HAVE to have pork and sauerkraut on Thanksgiving and Christmas and usually we just buy the kraut in a can or a bag.

  2. Oh, my! That looks wonderful!

  3. Thank you for these delicious meals.
    Good ideas for up-coming weekly menus :-)

  4. Hi Ken !
    So, you didn't resist the Norman temptation, lol, and bought some Neufchâtel :-) !!!
    Well, today, I had a cousin of my father's (he is still in hospital, the phlebitis seems to be "receding" (correct ?) and I had bought some excellent "choucroute" at our very good charcutier in Mesnil-Esnard and heated it with "confit de canard" instead of the usual pork sausages, etc. It was great and we drank one of the Touraines n°2 by Catherine Roussel, it was a good choice... My guests enjoyed the lunch and then left to go and pay a visit to my Dad :-)
    The weather has been very mild both yesterday and today afternoons, it was very pleasant !

  5. So that is what one does to make the best-looking pasta I've seen lately!
    Please tell Walt to give us the instructions for "easy pasta" with a pasta maker. I have one and I haven't used it for years. It seemed like such a big deal, before.

    Yummy-looking plate with the green salad and pasta.

    Mary in Oregon

  6. Your lunch looks wonderful and I admire your ability to resist temptation and leave the market with just the things you wanted. I don't have that much will power when faced with piles of fabulous fresh produce.

  7. look great! we use our goat cheese as our filling as well. i'm so envious that your cheese vendor has such a selection! we are near the end of our milking season and so ends our cheesemaking. but i'm making a lot of sauerkraut right now!

  8. Thanks for the inspiration. I don't have access to the great fresh goat cheese that you have but our local Costco about a kilo of goat cheese for the ridiculous price of $7 US. I used a recipe from "Fields of Greens" cookbook for a roasted garlic tomato sauce. Made some fresh pasta and the filling was ricotta, spinach, goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. OMG so yummy. Thank you for posting your pictures. I wouldn't have thought of making it.

    If you are curious - here's the recipe: http://community.cookinglight.com/showthread.php?t=68004


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