Saw this on TV. I'm a vegetarian (for the time being) and my husband is not so this is a great way to prepare one dish and satisfy both our palates. Note: this is not a quickie recipe, but so worth the wait!
Heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and sauté for a further 5 minutes until the onions and garlic are soft but not browned.
Add the ground beef and sauté for 5 minutes until the beef is almost cooked through but still a bit pink. Stir in the red wine. Add the tomatoes with their juices and bring to a gentle simmer uncovered over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Sauce should thicken. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprig and season to taste. Allow the ragu to cool before rolling it up in the lasagna sheets.
Next make the tomato sauce:
Heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Add the thyme and bay leaf.
Add the white wine and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered over a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until the tomatoes break down to form a chunky sauce (you may need to add a little water during the cooking process if the sauce thickens too much). Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
To make the spinach filling:
If you're using fresh spinach: rinse, drain, and do a quick blanch and squeeze out as much water as you can. If you're using frozen, just thaw and squeeze.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Add ricotta cheese, spinach, cheese of your choice and fold it all in until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stick in refrigerator for now.
To make the béchamel sauce:
Melt the butter over medium to low heat. Add the flour and stir until thick. Slowly add the milk and stir constantly until the sauce is smooth. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce is smooth and thick. Season the sauce to taste with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Now to assemble the cannelloni:
Bring a large sauce pan of salt water to a boil. Working in batches, add the lasagna sheets and cook until the sheets soften slightly (time will depend on what type you use).
Transfer the lasagna sheets to a clean surface and let cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 425°F
Spoon the tomato sauce over a 13x9" baking dish, covering the bottom. This is your base layer.
Lay one lasagna sheet on a work surface. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the beef ragu or spinach filling over one end of the lasagna sheet. Roll up the lasagna sheet and place the cannelloni seam side down over the tomato sauce. Repeat with the remaining lasagna sheets and filling, forming 8 cannelloni total.
Top with a thick layer of the béchamel sauce to coat the cannelloni completely. Top with parmesan cheese, creating a good layer of cheese over the sauce. Sprinkle some basil or thyme over the beef cannelloni to distinguish them from the spinach ones. Bake for 30 minutes or until the sauce bubbles and the cheese crusts/browns. Let the cannelloni stand for 10 minutes and serve.