1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F (175° C).
2. MAKE the meatballs and shape into miniature balls that will fit into the cannelloni tubes. Bake for 15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through (160°F)—mini meatballs will cook more quickly than conventional ones. Remove from oven and let cool until meat can be comfortably handled. Meanwhile…
3. BRING a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; add the cannelloni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and set aside until meatballs are ready.
4. STUFF each cannelloni with 4 meatballs (or as many as fit) and place in a 9″ x 13″ inch baking dish. Pour tomato sauce over cannelloni and bake 20 minutes, or until sauce begins to bubble.
5. If you’d like a mozzarella top, ADD the slices in the final 10 minutes so it doesn’t overly brown. Otherwise, grate ribbons of Parmesan over the cannelloni when ready to serve (we use a Microplane ribbon grater, although you can use a conventional grater.
6. GARNISH with the optional basil chiffonade.
QUICK TOMATO SAUCE RECIPE
1 can diced Italian tomatoes (we prefer San Marzano tomatoes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Optional heat: 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large leaves fresh basil, chopped, plus extra for garnish
1. PLACE the tomatoes and can juices in a food processor; process until smooth. Set aside.
2. HEAT the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
3. ADD the garlic and onion; sauté until soft. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper; sauté 5 to 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add fresh basil leaves and cook for 1 minute longer.