Classic spinach & ricotta cannelloni

A warm and heartening meal and a favourite of my vegacquarian marito.  Pictured is what you’ll need, plus some salt and pepper for seasoning. Note that I have actually used silver beet, I think it has better flavour – and that is what you’ll find the Italians in Sydney growing in their gardens – but you can also use English spinach (you’ll need a few bunches as English spinach shrinks even more than silver beet when cooked); you could also do it with kale or baby kale.  Do make the effort to buy fresh made ricotta rather than the pre-packaged stuff, there’s a world of difference.  And if you want some texture you could also throw some pine nuts in to the mixture. A Barilla pack of cannelloni has 24 tubes, so this easily serves 4-6.  If you have fresh basil on hand that’s also lovely to sprinkle on top before it goes into the oven.
cannelloni (1)

  1. For the sauce: finely dice the onion.  In a pot, heat 30 ml olive oil, saute the onion until soft, then add the can of tomatoes, half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of raw sugar (optional).  Fill the empty can with water and add to the pot.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes then puree with a stick blender. (The sauce might look a little watery, but that is fine – as it cooks it absorbs into the pasta)
  2. Meanwhile, remove the silver beet leaves from the stalks and chop the leaves into small pieces.  Reserve 2 stalks and dice finely; finely dice the onion and slice the spring onions.  In a saucepan, add two tablespoons of olive oil, the diced onion and stalks and spring onions, and saute until softened.  Add the silver beet, season with salt and pepper, add a couple of table spoons of water, cover and cook on low heat until silver beet is tender and there is no remaining liquid.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3.  To the silver beet, add the ricotta (about 600g) and half a cup or so of grated parmesan and combine well. Spoon the mixture into the tubes and place into a banking tray where they fit snugly.  They fit perfectly in my trusty Bessemer dish, a wedding gift thirteen years ago.
    cannelloni (2)
  4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, top the cannelloni with the sauce and grate some parmesan over the top.  Put some basil leaves on top as well as basil if you have them, cover with foil and bake for 35-40 minutes or until tender. Delicous!
    cannelloni (3)

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