Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

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Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-51-45-1[1] 25/06/2016

Here is a beautiful recipe for a homely, comforting dinner. It is a little hands on and requires a bit of effort and time in the kitchen but that is half of the fun and the resulting meal is satisfying and flavourful. If you are pushed for time or don’t have the patience then you can cut corners such as using ready made lasagne sheets or cannelloni tubes and buying ready made pasta sauce but you WILL be able to tell the difference.

The pasta in my recipe is so easy to make and the touch of wholemeal flour in the recipe not only adds texture and flavour but fibre too.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200g ricotta
  • 300g fresh spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • Fresh basil, a handful, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of sugar

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  • 50g wholemeal flour
  • 50g plain flour
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of salt
  • A dash of water, optional

For the béchamel sauce:

  • A knob of butter
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • Semi skimmed milk
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • Nutmeg, finely grated
  • Parmesan, finely grated, for topping

Method:

For the spinach and ricotta filling:

  1. Bring a saucepan with 1cm of water to the boil. Add the fresh spinach and wilt it for 30 seconds. Drain all the water and, using a pair of rubber gloves, squeeze the excess water from the spinach.
  2. Roughly chop the spinach and add it to a mixing bowl along with the ricotta, garlic, seasoning and nutmeg. Set aside in the fridge.

For the tomato sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Gently sweat the onions for 8-10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the garlic and stir for another minute.
  2. Add the passata, sugar and seasoning and leave to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally then add the basil before removing from the heat.
  3. Place half of the sauce in the base of a loaf tin or ovenproof dish and set the other half aside.

For the wholemeal cannelloni:

  1. Place the flours and salt into a mixing bowl. Add in the egg and combine with a fork until a dough is formed. You may need a little added water to help combine the dough.
  2. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Wrap in cling-film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. When ready, roll the dough into one long sheet. You can do this with a pasta machine if you have one but a rolling pin and good old fashioned elbow grease is just as good if you don’t. Roll the dough as thinly as you can.

For the béchamel:

  1. Heat the butter in a milk pan. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook the flour out over a low-medium heat for a couple of minutes then, away from the heat, add a splash of milk and whisk constantly until thickening. This will happen very quickly. Keep adding small amounts of milk and whisking to incorporate. Keep adding milk until you have a saucy consistency and place back over the gentle heat.
  2. Add the nutmeg and seasoning and keep stirring on the heat until the correct thickness is achieved.

To assemble:

  1. Cut the long sheet of pasta into 8-10 rectangles and fill each with a good dollop of the spinach, ricotta filling. Roll up the rectangles to encase the filling in a cylinder and place each cylinder on top of the tomato sauce in your loaf tin.
  2. Top with the remaining tomato sauce then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the top.
  3. Top with plenty of grated parmesan and bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-55-24-1[1] Screenshot_2016-06-25-13-53-21-1[1]

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