Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

A light ricotta spinach filling sitting on a bed of jammy tomato sauce. Wrapped in fresh egg pasta with a creamy béchamel on top. One of my favourite pasta dishes and well worth the time spent.

 

Notes   

You can use fresh lasagne sheets cut into squares if you don’t fancy making the pasta.

These are also delicious with a meat filling. Think a ragu or a bolognese!

Serves 6.

 

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce:

3 tins of whole tomatoes

4 fat cloves garlic, finely sliced

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

Sprig of fresh basil

Olive oil

 

Spinach Ricotta Filling:

1kg spinach

500g ricotta

2 garlic cloves, grated

20g Parmesan, grated

Zest of 1 lemon

Freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

 

Pasta Dough:

175g 00 flour

25g semolina flour

100g eggs (2 eggs)

 

Béchamel:

30g plain flour

30g butter

600ml whole milk, warmed gently in a microwave

10g Parmesan, grated

Freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

 

Directions:

 

FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE

Add a generous glug of olive oil to a medium saucepan. Gently fry the garlic, basil and chilli flakes over a low heat until fragrant.

Pour in the whole tomatoes and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Use a potato masher to crush the whole tomatoes. Turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 45 minutes. Until thick and jammy.

Check for seasoning and set aside.

FOR THE FILLING

Steam the spinach in batches in a large saucepan over a low heat. Stir until wilted and reduced in size.

Set the cooked spinach aside in a colander in the sink until cooled enough to touch.

Squeeze as much juice as you can out of the spinach until you’re left with a compressed ball. Chop the spinach ball with a sharp knife until finely chopped.

Add the spinach along with the remaining filling ingredients to a mixing bowl. Stir until combined.

FOR THE BECHAMEL

Melt the butter over a medium low heat in a medium sized saucepan.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1-minute stirring frequently.

Slowly whisk in the milk being careful to whisk out any lumps.

Add the nutmeg, parmesan, salt and pepper to the sauce and leave to bubble gently until thickened.

FOR THE PASTA DOUGH

Pour both the flours into a pile onto a large surface. Use a bowl to create a well in the pile.

Crack the eggs into the centre of the well and use a fork to whisk.

Carefully whisk the eggs into the flour walls until you get a thick paste.

Using your hands or preferably a bench scraper, combine the flour and egg paste until you have a coherent dough.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes until bouncy and smooth.

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough out using a pasta machine from settings 1-8. Its best to half the dough and do this in portions.

Dust the sheets with flour and cut into squares.

Stack the squares on a plate ready for assembly.

TO ASSEMBLE

Preheat your oven to 170c fan / 190c standard.

Grab a large oven dish and scoop the tomato sauce into the bottom to create a thick layer.

Heat the bechamel back to a hot temperature.

Fill a piping bag with the spinach and ricotta filling and pipe thick tubes onto one of the squares of pasta. Roll the pasta into cannelloni and lay into the baking dish on top of the tomato sauce.

Repeat this until you have no more filling.

Pour over the bechamel and grate over a generous amount of parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy.

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