Summer makes me crave for Italian food! Often Italian food is ready in no time! Probably not even worth to fire up the Q you might think? Think again! Every meal gains from a touch of smoke. It takes a bit longer to smoke the ricotta but you won't complain!
Prepare your BBQ or an indirect session at low temperature. When cooking on 75°C on the Traeger you'll get a nice smoke generation perfect to smoke the ricotta, fennel and spinach (in a sieve). Smoke it for about 2 hrs.
If you don't have a pellet smoker you can replace this step by cold smoking the ricotta with a cold smoke generator. When done right the ricotta should have a nice yellow tan.
While smoking the stuffing you can start making the sauce. This sauce doesn't need to have a smoky taste since we'll go for a smoky stuffing. Put a large cast iron pan on a medium heat source and add some oil.
Bake the fresh herbs (except for the basil) shorly to release their flavors. Meanwhile shred the onion and add it after a couple of minutes along with the crushed garlic cloves.
Cook until translucent while cutting the tomatoes in small dices. Add them to the onions and let them braise for about 5 minutes.
Quench with the red vermouth and let simmer for 30 minutes or more until you get a delicious pasta sauce. Taste and add some salt and pepper.
Shred the fresh basil leaves and stir them under the sauce. Keep some basil aside to add just before serving this meal.
Baste the smoked fennel with olive oil and put them back to get some grillmarks. Cut them in small dices.
Bake the spinach shortly until it's reduced and add the ricotta and a handful of grilled fennel. Mix through and bring to taste with a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper and lemon juice (I've used 1 lemon but this is a matter of taste).
Put a slice of prosciutto in the cannelloni tubes and add the stuffing.
Place the tubes in a fireproof skillet. Add another sip of vermouth to the sauce before pouring it over the cannelloni.
Shred the cheese on top of the plate and add some fresh pines.
Bake the Smoked Ricotta stuffed Canneloni in the BBQ on medium heat (180°C-200°C) for about 30-40 minutes until the canneloni tubes are done and the cheese has a nice golden brown colour.