20 dry cannelloni pasta shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound (450 grams) ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cups (250 ml) baby spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried oregano
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dried basil
1/4 cup (60 ml) butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) all-purpose flour
3 cups (750 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) Parmesan cheese, plus 1/2 cup (125 ml)
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 14-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start by preparing the filling. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and ground beef and cook for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and beef is no longer pink. Add spinach and stir. Season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper, cook until spinach is wilted, and remove from heat.
While beef is cooking, start the bechamel sauce by melting butter in a medium-sized saucepan. When melted add flour and whisk to fully incorporate. Cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk a little at a time, especially at first.Lower heat and cook for about 10 minutes, until milk has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup (250 ml) of the Parmesan cheese.
To assemble, pour a thin layer of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9" x 13" casserole dish, using no more than half the can. Start filling the pasta with the ground beef filling. The easiest way is to hold one cannelloni straight up, holding one hand flat across the bottom to block the opening. Gently add small amounts beef to the cannelloni, pushing it down to pack them as tightly as possible. When one cannelloni is packed, place into the casserole dish and repeat with remaining cannelloni.
When all cannelloni has been filled and are in the casserole dish, spread bechamel sauce completely over cannelloni to cover. Down the center, spread remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup (125 ml) of Parmesan cheese over top.
Cover dish with foil and place in the preheated oven to bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cannelloni is tender. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes, until Parmesan cheese is melted and bubbling.
After removing from oven, sprinkle with fresh parsley and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.