Canelons d'estil Català (Catalan Cannelloni)

Can be made: Gluten Free

31 Aug · Written by Raquel Jones


Evidently, the written word 'canelones' can be traced back to 1815. In Spain, Catalonia stands as the primary region where pasta has firmly rooted itself, and these delectable stuffed rolls have become a cherished part of the traditional Christmas fare in Catalonia. Specifically, they grace the tables on the Feast of St. Stephen, celebrated on December 26th, commonly known as Boxing Day.

In my own home, I transform leftover Christmas turkey into these delightful bundles of joy for a dinner feast the day after. They offer a fantastic way to utilize leftovers while making it seem as though you've gone the extra mile to impress your guests.

Interestingly, the origins of pasta, or 'noodle,' can be traced back to China, and it was none other than Marco Polo who introduced it to Italy—yes, really! Subsequently, the Arabs carried it across the Mediterranean from Italy to the Iberian Peninsula.

During the Middle Ages, noodles found their way into Catalan cuisine, and as far back as the 14th century, various noodle-based recipes have been documented.

Most of these recipes had Arab influences. Curiously, the word for 'noodles' in Spanish is 'fideos,' a term that has endured to this day.

The widespread adoption of pasta as a staple food in Catalonia occurred during the 19th century, with the arrival of Swiss and Italian immigrants to the region. Along with their love for Verdi opera, they brought their passion for canelons!

Café Suizo, affectionately known to Barcelona locals at the time as 'El Suís,' was the epitome of Renaissance culture and gastronomy and served as the go-to place from its establishment in 1857 until its closure in 1949.

My rendition of this Spanish traditional recipe is as straightforward as it is scrumptious!

Bon Profit! Raquel x

Canelons d'estil Català (Catalan Cannelloni)

Serves: 4 adults as a substantial main (4 canelons each) or 8 adults as a plentiful entrée (2 canelons each)

INGREDIENTS for the filling

  • 2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, diced (or 1 1/2 cups leftover turkey from Christmas)
  • 1 cup chicken liver, finely diced (if you don’t want to use chicken liver, add an extra chicken thigh fillet or 1/2 cup more turkey)
  • 250 g beef mince(Important to note: if using leftover turkey, don’t choose ‘lean’ beef mince - you will need the extra moisture from the fat as turkey meat can be quite dry)
  • 250 g pork mince
  • 1 large brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 small leek, (white part only) sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cup sweet Sherry or any fortified dessert wine
  • 3 whole, peeled tomatoes (canned), diced
  • 2 tbsp (preferably fresh) breadcrumbs (substitute GF crumbs, if needed)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt

INGREDIENTS for the Béchamel Sauce and Canelons

  • 50 g of butter (substitute Nuttlex or coconut butter for DF option)
  • 50 g of plain flour (substitute GF flour, if needed)
  • 1/2 L of chicken stock
  • 500 mL of milk (substitute milk for DF option)
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt to taste
  • 16 (preferably fresh) lasagne sheets (I use Latina Fresh) - (substitute GF lasagne sheets)
  • 100-150 g grated cheese (I use Emmental) - (substitute Lactose-free cheese or vegan cheese for DF option)
  • 25 g COLD butter to grease oven dish and dot the top of dish (substitute Nuttlex or coconut butter for DF option)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley, for garnish

Part 1. Filling


  1. Heat olive oil in large, deep frying pan over high heat.
  2. Once starting to smoke, add all meats (except turkey, if using) to pan with onion, leek, garlic and salt. Fry until all ingredients begin to colour.
  3. Add diced tomatoes (and turkey, if using) and cook until liquid begins to evaporate.
  4. Reduce heat to low and add the sweet Sherry (or fortified wine). Cover pan and simmer mixture for around 10-15 mins.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, let sit whilst you prepare the béchamel sauce and pasta.

Part 2. Béchamel Sauce and Pasta Sheets


  1. Cook lasagne sheets (or GF lasagne sheets) according to packet instructions in salted water (1 tsp salt is sufficient)
  2. Drain and refresh under cold water, then lay sheets out on a clean, damp tea towel whilst you prepare the sauce.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and lightly grease a large oven dish with some of the 25g of COLD butter listed for greasing purposes.Note: Place remaining butter, after greasing back into the fridge to firm up.
  4. Melt the other 50g butter listed in a mid-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Add flour and whisk to combine, allowing four to cook for about 1-2 mins.
  6. Add the stock and milk, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth and begins to boil.
  7. Reduce heat to very low and simmer for about 10 mins.
  8. Remove from heat and season with thyme, nutmeg and salt.

Part 3. Putting it all together


  1. Depending on the size of your lasagne sheets - spoon 1 1/2 to 2 spoons of meat mixture along one side of each sheet.
  2. Gently roll up each sheet and place all into greased oven dish, no need to leave gaps.
  3. Pour over the béchamel sauce and sprinkle over the grated cheese.
  4. Grate the leftover butter (stored back in the fridge after greasing tray) over the top and bake in oven for around for about 15 mins, or until top is browning and sauce is bubbling beautifully at the sides of the dish.


Is there a quicker version or can I substitute the lasagne sheets?

I find fresh lasagne sheets, which are easier to work with than dried cannelloni tubes BUT if you can't be bothered rolling up the lasagne sheets, you can 'cheat' by purchasingjumbo pasta shells.


Cook 500g large pasta shells in salted water as per packet directions, drain and tumble shells into greased baking dish before making the béchamel sauce. Once sauce is ready, grab your meat mixture and spoon about 1 tbsp of mixture into each shell (or lazily pour the meat mixture over shells and mix well). Then pour over the béchamel sauce, grated cheese and bake in oven for about 15 mins, or until top is browning and sauce is bubbling beautifully at the sides of the dish.


To complement the luscious béchamel sauce, consider sipping on ourpinot gris, Amphora Blanco (a chardonnay blend), or our Estate Chardonnay. Should your heart lean toward a red, give our Tempranillo J a try; its gentle tannins and well-balanced acidity harmonise beautifully with the creamy nuances of this pasta dish.

If you find yourself torn between red and white wine, why not strike a delightful compromise with a glass ofour rosé?

Whether you choose to present this dish as a standalone appetiser or elevate it to the status of a main course, a crisp green salad on the side is the perfect accompaniment.