DISCLAIMER: Spinach & ricotta anything is a favourite of mine but this dish is flavoursome enough for the Mr to enjoy it and this makes enough for us to have at least 2 family size meals and a lunch meal for the Bebito and I.
I’ll be honest, this is a little bit of work but it’s worth it and it looks like more work on paper than it does in reality. I’ve tried LOADS of recipes and this is my version which is the best I’ve tried in all honesty. 🙂
2 knobs of butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- herbs – fresh is best in my opinion but seriously, dry is all good – I’d say grab any herbs you like the taste of but a mix of woody (ie. rosemary or thyme) and basil is best. If using fresh grab a couple of handfuls and roughly chop them. If using dried I’d use 2 tablespoons of mixed herbs – personally I love thyme and sage in this mix.
- a bit of grated nutmeg
- heaped teaspoon of paprika
- 1 packet of frozen spinach, defrosted
- 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes, chopped
- 200mls water
- tablespoon balsamic
- salt & pepper to taste
- 300g fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 packets instant cannelloni tubes – you’ll need more than one packet but not quite 2 – I’m partial to the Italian brands but anything you get is fine
- 200g mozzarella, – our deli slices it for us but grated is good too
The cheesey sauce to top it:
- 1 anchovy chopped (trust me!)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 100 ml of milk
- 100 ml of cream
- large handful of parmesan
- small handful of mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
If you have a long element on your stove top (sorry, I have NO idea what one of those is called) grab a heatproof baking dish and put it on a medium heat over that element. If you don’t, then just pop a deep-ish large-ish frying pan over a medium heat. Add butter, a lug of olive oil and the crushed garlic. Leave to heat slightly. Then add your herbs, nutmeg and paprika. Saute slightly until garlic is a bit soft. Then add the spinach and saute for around 5 mins to cook through. Then place the spinach into a large bowl and leave to cool.
Place the pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil and the tinned tomatoes, balsamic and water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, add a pinch of salt and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. .
Add the ricotta, egg and a handful of the Parmesan to the spinach mixture. Spoon or pipe into the cannelloni tubes, ensuring that eat which is quite full without any air pockets. Place the filled cannelloni over the tomato sauce. Top with the mozzarella – reserving a small handful for the cheesy sauce.
Now it’s time to get on with making your cheesey sauce. Half melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the anchovy, ensuring it dissolves as much as possible. When butter is melted add the flour and make a roux – cook off for a minute til it all comes together nicely. Then add the cream and milk slowly so that the flour doesn’t clump. When all the liquid is added put in your cheese, melt and then pour on top of the cannelloni.
Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until it bubbles and goes that yummy brown we love seeing – but if you’re putting it straight in the freezer I recommend only cooking it for 15 minutes and then cooking it through further when you defrost and reheat in the oven.
Serve with a yummy green salad. Try not to overeat it! 🙂
If you give it a try I’d love to know how you go with it!