Fresh egg pasta sheets filled with creamy ricotta and spinach, in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with oozy mozzarella! These spinach and ricotta cannelloni are full of flavour and a great vegetarian family dinner.
2cloves ofgarlicput through a garlic press or finely chopped
1level tspdried oregano
2 x400g (2 x 14oz ) cans of whole plum tomatoes
2dried bay leaves
¼tspfreshly ground black pepper
for the cannelloni
7sheets of fresh egg lasagna sheets+ a couple more in case any break
250g(approx 8 cups) of young spinach
250g( 1 cup ) ricotta
45g(½ a cup ) pecorino cheesefinely grated + more for serving
2cloves of garlic
smallbunch of basilroughly shredded
¼tspfreshly ground black pepper
125g x ball( 1 x 8 oz ball US) of fresh mozzarella
Make the sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sautè pan.Add the chopped onion and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the chopped celery and chopped carrot. Cook for another 10 minutes or until they are softened.Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and cook for a minute until the garlic releases its aroma.
Now add two cans of whole plum tomatoes, break them down with a wooden spoon and stir well. I always add a little water to the cans to catch any remaining tomato juice. Stir in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, season with salt and pepper then and 2 dried bay leaves.Leave the sauce to simmer until it is nice and thick then using a handheld blender blend the sauce until it is smooth.Remove the bay leaves.
Make the filling
Heat the oven to 180°C (355° F) fan oven / 200°C (390°F) conventional oven.Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large frying pan.Add half the spinach and cook until it is wilted. Remove the wilted spinach from the pan.Repeat with the remaining spinach.Leave to cool slightly then place the spinach in a clean t-towel and squeeze the spinach to remove some of the liquid.Roughly chop the spinach and place in a large bowl
Add the ricotta and grated pecorino to the spinach along with the chopped basil, nutmeg and garlic.Season with salt and pepper then stir well.
Assemble the cannelloni
Lay a sheet of pasta on a clean wooden board.Add two tablespoons of the filling along one side. Roll the sheet so you now have a tube.Repeat until you have used up all the filling.Add half the sauce to a casserole dish, spread it out evenly.Place the filled cannelloni on the sauce then pour the remaining sauce over the cannelloni.Tear up the mozzarella then scatter it on top of the sauce.Bake uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and golden.Leave to cool slightly before serving.
Pasta - I use fresh pasta sheets to make this cannelloni, I have found it to be the easiest and fastest way to make cannelloni. The other thing about using fresh lasagna sheets is that you get the best, crispiest edges. I think they taste better than the dried cannelloni rolls, but that's a taste preference. You can use the dried pasta tubes if you want, the best way the fill those is to use a piping bag.
Pro-Tip - always have a couple of extra sheets of lasagna, sometimes sheets crack or break, it can happen.
Sauce - When the sauce is cooked I blend it with a handheld blender, this will make the sauce nice and smooth. You can skip this if you want. I find that the smoother the sauce the less chance of the kids finding out that there are carrots in there!
Freezing/leftovers/making ahead -The best way to make this ahead of time is to make the whole dish and freeze it before you cook it. You should take it out of the freezer to thaw 24 hours before you want to cook it. Cook it in the oven for 30 minutes. You can also make the sauce a day or two ahead if you want. It will keep in the fridge. Or you can freeze it. You can also make the filling a day ahead, you can freeze that too. Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days. They can be reheated in the oven for best results or in the microwave. You can also freeze any leftovers once colled.
Nutritional Information - is calculated using an online nutrition tool is approximate and based on one serving of four.
Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for best results.