Recipe: Primal Cannelloni Al Forno

For today’s cook day, I found inspiration from a recipe I found on Paleo Leap for Eggplant Cannelloni.    When I was a teenager, Olive Garden had a Cannelloni Al Forno dish that was to die for. My mom and I ordered it regularly and were heartbroken when it disappeared from their menu.

Thanks to the Internet, I have a recipe for it that is a dead-ringer for the original.  But it’s VERY complicated and time-consuming, so I typically only make it once a year for my mom’s birthday.

Well, today I decided to try to make a paleo version using the eggplant pasta idea, and it turned out really well.  I did, however, use some Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, so I guess this is better termed a “Primal” Cannelloni.


  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 lb ground veal or beef
  • 1 lb ground Italian style sausage
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 4 large eggplant, sliced lengthwise
  • No added sugar pasta sauce (This is what I used)
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. In a large, deep saucepan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and saute onion, celery and carrot until soft
  2. Add 2 cloves garlic, cook 1 minute
  3. Add beef, pork and chicken.  Cook, stirring occasionally until browned
  4. Add wine (if using) and reduce for 1 minute.  
  5. Stir in broth, add herbs, bay leaf, salt & pepper.  Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes
  6. Uncover, reduce until almost dry.  Discard bay leaf.  Set aside to cool
  7. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan set over moderately low heat.  Add remaining 2 cloves garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute)
  8. Whisk tapioca flour into coconut milk, and pour in with butter mixture.
  9. Once coconut milk starts to bubble on the edges, add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted
  10. Add parsley and nutmeg and stir to combine.
  11. In a large bowl, combine cooled meat, egg yolks and cheese sauce.
  12. Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
  13. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil and lay out sliced eggplant.
  14. Coat each eggplant slice with remaining olive oil (I used a silicone brush)
  15. Roast eggplant for 10 minutes and let cool for 5.
  16. Cover bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish (or two.  This recipe makes a lot of meat.) with 1/4 inch of pasta sauce
  17. Pour meat mixture into a food processor and run on low for 30 sec to a minute, just to get the meat to crumble down into smaller pieces and blend in the veggies.
  18. Place as large spoonful of the meat mixture at the edge of each slice of eggplant and roll the eggplant around the meat.  Place rolled eggplant in dish with seam-side downIMG_1473
  19. Cover eggplant rolls with remaining pasta sauce
  20. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese
  21. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes or until cheese is brown and melted.
  22. IMG_1475

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