Spinach & ricotta cannelloni

My Mum makes a version of this with those beautiful big pasta shells that you can buy that I absolutely LOVE so I have had a hankering for it for some time. I decided over coffee on Monday with Mum that this was going to be the week because things had gone from “I must do that” to ” I WANT THAT”. I loaded up the trolley with ALL OF THE greens and got cracking yesterday afternoon on this knowing it would be a little fiddly and not at all a 4.30pm job when everyone was tired and hungry. Hangry, you know the feeling well I am sure.

My mistake with this one, I discovered, was using the dry pasta shells which was a fiddly and messy job. I had a strange technique with a teaspoon and a chopstick, but you can use a zip lock bag with the end snipped off as a kind of piping bag. Someone else also suggested that you can roll the mixture out into tubes about the diameter of the tubes, freeze them, then chop them up and insert into the tube, but I think the easiest way everyone suggested was to use fresh lasagne sheets which you roll up like a sauso roll. I will try that one next time – there was only dry available in the shop I grabbed the stuff from, so dry it was. Another suggestion from Florence of all things was (and my Mum mentioned this to me over coffee) was to make crepes and use those. Hello! Can you imagine how delicious that would be?!

I stuffed those tubes, stacked them up knowing that the girls may turn their noses up at the greens and ricotta, but at dinner it was declared a winner all round. Even Maggie who declared it “DISGUSTING” tried it, then ate the lot and declared it “DELICIOUS!”. So  it was messy and fiddly (due to my poor method), but DELICIOUS and everyone ate it AND all their greens so it was a success and I shall do it again for sure.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

1 packet streaky bacon
1 red onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic – minced or grated
Half bunch shallots
1 large bunch english spinach (use whatever leafy greens you can find)
1 large bag baby spinach
1/2 bunch dill (finely chopped)
500 grams ricotta
Handful parmesan cheese
1-2 jars or bottles of passata/sugo (to cover the top)
Drizzle cream (optional)
2 Handfuls mozzarella cheese (to top)
Salt & Pepper to season (you need more than you think)
Cannelloni tubes (or use fresh lasagne sheets for convenience)

1. Finely chop your bacon and fry off in a dry, hot pan until crispy. You obviously leave this out if you wanted a vegetarian version of this

2. Finely dice your red onion, garlic and shallots and add in with the crispy bacon until coated and translucent

 

3. Roughly chop your English spinach and add into the pan

4. When that’s cooked down, add in the big bag of baby spinach (or any greens you like) until wilted then transfer into a bowl

5. Finely chop half a bunch of dill (you could substitute for basil or whatever herb is your fave) and add into the mix with the ricotta, a bit at a time stirring all together until combined

6. If you were using fresh lasagne sheets I imagine you would cut them into either small squares with the filling down one side and roll like a sausage roll, or bigger sheets then cut to size. If you use dried shells you could try the piping method, or if like me, you like to punish yourself, use the teaspoon and end of a chopstick method to get the filling into the shells

7. Line up the filled shells into a baking dish (you can add some tomato sauce into the bottom of the baking dish (I forgot to do this and it was fine without it).

8. Pour your tomato pasata over the top straight from the jar or bottle and smooth out with the back of your spoon. Mum adds a drizzle of cream on top too (I meant to do this but forgot) the cheese and bake in a hot oven (180 degrees fan forced) until golden on top – about 30 mins. I made mine a few hours before cooking and it was fine to do. I do this for lasagnes too – make ahead, whack in the fridge and then bake when you are ready. Your future self will be so smug when the dishes are already done and all you have to do is bake.

Beware 4 year olds when serving. You could serve with a salad we had some garlic bread and every little bit was eaten. This will get a run again I am sure.

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

This is a great family friendly vegetarian (or not) mid week dinner that packs in all the greens but hides it in a pasta dish the kids will love.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course

Ingredients

  • 1 packet streaky bacon
  • 1 red onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 bunch shallots
  • 1 bunch english spinach roughly chopped
  • 1 lge bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 bunch dill (or your preferred herb like basil) finely chopped
  • 500 grams ricotta
  • 1 handful parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 jars passata
  • 1 drizzle cream optional
  • 2 handfuls mozzarella cheese to top
  • salt & pepper to season
  • 1-2 boxes cannelloni shells (or fresh lasagne sheets)

Instructions

  • Finely chop your bacon and fry off in a dry, hot pan until crispy. You obviously leave this out if you wanted a vegetarian version of this
  • Finely dice your red onion, garlic and shallots and add in with the crispy bacon until coated and translucent
  • Roughly chop your English spinach and add into the pan
  • When that's cooked down, add in the big bag of baby spinach (or any greens you like) until wilted then transfer into a bowl
  • Finely chop half a bunch of dill (you could substitute for basil or whatever herb is your fave) and add into the mix with the ricotta, a bit at a time stirring all together until combined
  • If you were using fresh lasagne sheets I imagine you would cut them into either small squares with the filling down one side and roll like a sausage roll, or bigger sheets then cut to size. If you use dried shells you could try the piping method, or if like me, you like to punish yourself, use the teaspoon and end of a chopstick method to get the filling into the shells
  • Line up the filled shells into a baking dish
  • Pour your tomato pasata over the top straight from the jar or bottle and smooth out with the back of your spoon. Mum adds a drizzle of cream on top too (I meant to do this but forgot) the cheese and bake in a hot oven (180 degrees fan forced) until golden on top - about 30 mins. I made mine a few hours before cooking and it was fine to do. I do this for lasagnes too - make ahead, whack in the fridge and then bake when you are ready. Your future self will be so smug when the dishes are already done and all you have to do is bake.

What’s your cannelloni method?
Do you even have one?
Have a fickle 4 year old? Don’t worry they turn into teenagers who are so hungry they will eat everything and anything. Promise.

Comments

  1. Carolyn Heywood says

    I make a version of this and add a layer of sliced mushrooms on top, under the cheese. Not sure how this would go with a 4 year old but no problem with grown ups!

  2. This looks delicious!! I will be trying this version for sure. When I make ricotta cannelloni I use my piping bag with no tip. Easy peasy

  3. it looks delicious! thanks beth
    favourite combo spinach and ricotta
    i want to eat it, but not make it!
    on a tangent … i suppose one could layer it all up with lasagne sheets too
    i’m all for quick fix!
    love mxx

  4. Looks delish. Nagi at RecipeTin Eats has a pasta bake version which is all very tasty and lovely and quick for week nights too https://www.recipetineats.com/spinach-ricotta-pasta-bake/

  5. Hot tip for this one if you’reusing dry pasta tubes – when you’re ready to fill them, pop one standing up like a soldier in a quarter cup measuring cup, then stuff. It holds the stuffing and acts as a stablilser. Genius, no?

  6. I just use my fingers, I used to use kitchen gloves – but the environment – so just clean hands – it’s messy – but the quickest method I’ve used so far.

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