High Protein Recipes

Cannelloni Dinner Party

gluten free pasta recipe

Chicken & Spinach Cannelloni

I came up with this meal when I was planning to have a few people over to put up Christmas decorations. I didn’t want to have the meal preparation and cleanup take up the evening and since I was leaving town a few days afterwards I wanted to use up the food I already had on hand – i.e. this was a clean out the fridge kind of meal. I especially love this meal because the clean up is super easy.

Since I already had cooked chicken on hand I needed a substitute for the pasta which cannelloni is traditionally made with. I had lots of zucchini which became the obvious substitute, although 2 eggplants sliced lengthwise would have worked just as well and given me larger cannelloni.

You can make this dish without the ricotta, egg, and/or Parmesan which are the traditional base for cannelloni and it will be delicious – it just won’t be cannelloni.

The wine gives the white sauce a distinctive wine flavor, so if you don’t think that would suit you just use vegetable broth instead.

You can make the zucchini “pasta”, white sauce, red sauce, and the filling two to three day sbefore. You can make the salad dressing two to three days before.

I often double up on the white sauce recipe to save time throughout the week when I use it to dress pasta, drizzle over veggies, to make a gratin, or anything else you can think of that would benefit from a creamy, cheesy addition.

Note: this meal serves 8.

Ingredients List For Shopping

  • 8 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup soy flour
  • 2 cups dry white wine or clear broth
  • 2 cups nondairy milk, or half and half, or heavy cream
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons each of nutmeg & sea salt
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey (since I had leftover cooked chicken I finely chopped it and it worked fine)
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry or cooked, diced broccoli
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, if you don’t have any Parmesan you can use mozzarella or Provolone instead.
  • If you have an egg go ahead and add it to the filling, otherwise don’t worry about it.
  • 1 teaspoon each nutmeg and salt
  • 4 roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 head of roasted garlic if you have it on hand, if you don’t then use 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Zucchini “Pasta”

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place on lightly oiled baking sheets. Bake for 5 minutes until zucchini is just soft enough to roll without breaking.

White Sauce

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup soy flour
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 cups nondairy milk, or half and half, or heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Melt butter in a l-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir in soy flour and continue stirring using the spoon to break up any clumps. After about 5 minutes the flour should be a very light brown and smell slightly nutty.

Whisk in white wine or vegetable broth, heavy cream, nutmeg, and sea salt. Bring to a low boil and cook, whisking often for about 10 minutes or until thickened. This sauce is very versatile. I ran out of nutmeg once and used allspice instead, another time I used dried basil, and the sauce turned out great each time.

Filling

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 pound cooked, diced chicken or turkey
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, if you don’t have any Parmesan you can use mozzarella or Provolone instead.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Finely chop onion. Place it in a large microwavable bowl. Add a small amount of water and cook in microwave until al dente. Remove from microwave and add the ground meat, spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg and 1/2 cup of the white sauce.

Mix filling ingredients until well blended. Taste and add extra seasoning if needed.

Red Cream Sauce

The recipe below is just enough for the cannelloni, however I always double this recipe and freeze it or serve over pasta later in the week.

  • 4 roasted red bell peppers, can use jarred peppers
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic, or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Puree peppers with garlic, basil, sea salt & black pepper to taste. Stir in heavy cream.

Spoon red sauce onto individual plates, top with cannelloni.

Assembly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Ladle enough white sauce into a 13″ x “9-inch baking pan to lightly cover the bottom.

Top each zucchini slice with about a tablespoon of filling. Roll up and place on top of sauce. Lightly drizzle top of zucchini rolls with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle 1/4 – 1/2 cup Parmesan on top of sauce.

Cover and bake 30 minutes if filling and white sauce were prepared ahead and are cold, 15 minutes if these ingredients are precooked. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese just begins to brown. After removing baking pan from oven turn heat up to 500 degrees.

 

Caesar Salad with Cheese Crisps

I’ve given you precise measurements, but I never measure when making salad dressing. The measurements simply serve to give you an idea of how much of each ingredient you need.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dressing

  • 1/2 block soft tofu (don’t use silken tofu)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worchestire sauce
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, or 4-6 cloves roasted, although I often squeeze in an entire head of roasted garlic
  • sea salt & black pepper to taste

Puree, then drizzle in 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil.

Cheese Crisps

Thinly slice mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, then cut slices into 1 inch squares. Place cheese squares onto a  baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until cheese rounds are browned about 5 to 7 minutes. Pick up parchment paper and carefully move entire thing with cheese crisps to a wire rack, stone counter or cutting board to cool.

Toss Romaine lettuce with dressing to lightly coat. Top with cooled cheese crisps.

 

Roasted Asparagus

Snap woody ends off asparagus. Toss with extra-virgin olive oil, season with sea salt. Roast in oven at 400 degrees F on the same baking sheet that you used for the cheese crisps. Roast for 25 minutes until browned and tender.

 

Sweet Nuts

If you want to serve dessert these nuts are a good finger food which can be munched on while moving about the house putting up Christmas decorations. Serve these nuts with coffee and whipped cream. All of the optional ingredients go well together so you can use one or all or none of them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1-1/2 cup raw unfiltered maple syrup, honey or agave nectar
1 cup date, maple or coconut sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum or brandy, optional
1/4 cup grain-sweetened chocolate chips or unsweetened chocolate, optional
1/2 teaspoon orange peel, optional
8 cup assortment of unsalted whole, shelled nuts

Cook all ingredients except nuts over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves

Stir in nuts until well coated. Spread onto 2 lightly buttered baking sheets. Bake 25-30 minutes, stirring once, until nuts are slightly darker in color. When completely cool, break into pieces.

 

Eggplant Stacks

With my leftover red sauce I came up with this melt in your mouth dish which I served for dinner the next day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant
  • Red Sauce
  • shredded or sliced mozzarella

Peel and slice eggplant into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place eggplant in a lightly oiled hot pan over medium high heat and season lightly with sea salt and pepper. When eggplant is browned, turn, and continue cooking. When the tines of a fork sink through the eggplant as easily as if it were butter it’s done. Line the bottom of a baking pan with one layer of eggplant slices. Cover eggplant with shredded mozzarella. Cover cheese with another layer of eggplant, a layer of cheese, a layer of eggplant, pasta sauce. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve with a green salad and Caesar dressing, which you most likely have lots of from last night’s dinner.

Freezer Version

Saute the eggplant slices. Cool. Lay a piece of saran wrap on your kitchen counter. Place an eggplant slice in the center of the wrap. Tear a piece of mozzarella or provolone in half and lay each half on a slant over eggplant so that the surface of the eggplant is well covered. Top with another eggplant slice, then cheese, then eggplant. Tightly wrap saran around sandwich. Repeat until all your sandwiches are prepared, then place each wrapped sandwich into a freezer bag, label and freeze. Reheat in oven or microwave, top with Red Cream Sauce.

Variation

Make a thin omelet using a cooked eggplant slice and cheese for the filling. Top with warmed pasta sauce.

 

Red Cream Soup

If you still have Red Cream Sauce left then add some vegetable broth, taste and add sea salt and/or pepper if needed. Tastes like you spent hours at the stove!

Variations:

  • a dash or two of hot sauce
  • finely diced mozzarella or provolone Veggie Slices
  • UnDiet Italian Seasoning
  • whole grain croutons

Isn’t it nice to cook once and end up with two or three meals?

About admin

I've always abhorred the idea that the only way to lose weight is to starve yourself, eat foods that are foreign to you, or gulp down special weight loss potions. I've proved that it is not only possible, but it's easy and fun to lose weight The UnDiet way. The UnDiet is extremely flexible, allowing you to make deviations based on your personal taste, the choices confronting you at any given time, your mood, your cooking skills and the time you have available. A gourmet cook can be happy with The UnDiet as well as those who don't know or care what saute means. You can eat out at restaurants and parties and still not fall off The UnDiet. You can eat olive oil, butter, cream, meat, mayonnaise and still not fall off The UnDiet. You can eat until you're full and still lose weight, once you've mastered the basic principles of The UnDiet. So dig in to this blog, subscribe to the newsletter for lots of extras not published on the blog and get ready for the Kindle book coming soon.

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