In Europe of yore, many regions were broken into kingdoms rather than countries. One that extended into the Pyrenees, and the islands of Corsica, France and Sardinia, Italy was Catalonia.
Today, what remains is the autonomous region of Catalonia, in Northern Spain. The residents have their own language and dynamic traditions.
Known as a maritime domain, over time Catalonia assembled an eclectic mix of customs from all the world over to call its own. An authentic melting pot was formulated right in the kitchens around each village and town.
Pasta is typically associated as the cuisine of Italy. Rice plays as an essential staple by complimenting many of Spain's recipes. Surprisingly, pasta appears to run a close second in Spain's northern regions.
Pasta can be traced as far back as 1477 in Northern Spain. Food historians acknowledge that Catalonia's first cookbook was written that year by Ruperto de Nola and included several pasta dishes.
The versatile Catalans adopted these "unfamiliar" dishes to their own inimitable culture. Headlining on their tables today, their take on cannelloni is not at all Italian but truly Catalan in style and flavour.
Catalans are particularly fond of 'Canelones Rossini', which is stuffed with a combination of heavier meats (chicken, beef and pork).
Since seafood is premium in the area and for a lighter version for weight watchers, the stuffing in cannelloni can vary. By adding shrimp and hake, this recipe is known as "Canelones con gambas y merluza." Dish it up on the plate and add a seafood sauce of your choice.
8 pieces of cannelloni shells
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
8 oz fresh spinach
½ lb clean and peeled shrimp
½ lb hake or whiting pouched (see separate pouching instructions)
½ cup of butter
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of flour.
1 ½ liter of milk
¼ pint of heavy cream
Salt to taste
1 cup of your choice of grated cheese
Prepare the onion and garlic, all finely chopped and place in a saucepan adding a small amount of olive oil and sauté over medium heat.
Clean and prep the spinach. Chop and place in the pan.
Add in the shrimp and fish and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Place the pan aside.
Heat up the milk until boiling and place aside.
In another pan, heat the butter with the olive oil and add in flour: Stir well and pour the hot milk in gradually, constantly stirring to avoid lumps.
Once this mixture begins to thicken, add the shrimp and fish mixture and let simmer for 10 minutes and season with spices.
Pour into a bowl and let it cool in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Cook the cannelloni in salted boiling water and a tablespoon of olive oil.
Drain and place on clean paper towels.
Insert the filling to each cannelloni.
In a flat pyrex/baking glass dish, cover the bottom with the cream and add the cannelloni.
Top the dish with balance of the cream over the cannelloni and sprinkle with grated cheese.
Place in the oven at 400 º for 10 minutes until brown.
Serve hot with your choice of seafood sauce on the side.
Directions for Poaching Fish:
Put water, lemon juice and salt in a large pan.
Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the hake and simmer for 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave to finish cooking gently in the cooking liquid.
Remove the meat from the fish.