Guys, cannelloni is so easy! Why didn’t any of you tell me this? Oh man. This really is an assembly meal, it is very easy and versatile and cooks fast. I used the “oven ready” variety of cannelloni, mostly because in my head it made more sense to stuff hard pasta tubes rather than squishy, pre-cooked pasta tubes. They came in a box of 16 – 20 so it made a few meals with ease, and I’ve learned that if it is stuffed in a pasta, Kale will eat it.
Jamie Oliver has a nice looking recipe for this too, but his seems more complicated.
For this one, I used a mix of fresh spinach and frozen chopped spinach I had kicking around, and if I was doing it again, the frozen is easier but the fresh is nicer tasting and has a better texture. Next time I will definitely also add mushrooms. You could also add in sundried tomatoes, pieces of cooked sausage, peppers, fennel, and all sorts of other stuff. Just remember whatever you add needs to be chopped small enough to fit in the tube.
The ratios on this one is a bit tricky – a “bunch” of spinach can vary wildly and a “tub” of ricotta isn’t always a standard measurement. Use judgement, but know that those little tubes need to be packed tight to hold up when cooking.
Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
- A glug of olive oil and some butter
- 1 very large bunch of spinach, cleaned and de-stemmed, OR one package of frozen chopped spinach for every tub of ricotta, defrosted, drained and squeezed.
- Small onion, or about half a medium onion, chopped finely
- “Italian Seasoning Herbs Mix” or something that has a nice blend of oregano, thyme, lemon, etc. My blend happens to also have ground sundried tomato as well. You may also wish to add salt and pepper, depending upon the ingredients of your mix.
- 1 tub of ricotta, it was about 400g but you’ll need more if you intend to use the whole box of pasta noodles (I used almost two)
- One box of oven ready cannelloni noodles (these are the large tubes you stuff)
- Diced tomatoes, either a can or fresh. If you use fresh, get a really juicy tomato and add the juice too. You can use pasta sauce here if you prefer no chunks or something seasoned. I like plain diced tomatoes so that the seasoning in the spinach shines through.
- Mozzarella or other cheese for topping
- Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet or pan at about medium. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they are transparent. Add in a generous teaspoon or two of the seasoning mix and the salt and pepper if required. If you’re adding mushrooms, peppers, sausage, fennel, etc, do it here and cook through before proceeding to the spinach part.
- Add in the fresh spinach or the frozen and defrosted spinach, and stir until the fresh spinach wilts and everything is well blended.
- Scrape the whole works into a bowl and mix really well with the ricotta.
- A number of recipes I read suggested you pipe the stuff into the tube, but I found that overly fussy and just scooped it up with my hands and stuffed it into the tube tightly.
- In a foil dish (I used small little rectangles that were the same width as the noodles), add a few tablespoons of the tomatoes and their juices. You need enough moisture for the pasta to cook within the steamed juices.
- In a single layer, arrange the stuffed tubes. Top with more tomatoes and juice.
- Grate the mozzarella (or parmesan or asiago or whatever floats your boat) on the top.
If you’re filling the freezer, Put the lids on the containers nice and tight, and freeze it here.
To reheat, from frozen at 375º for about an hour. From defrosted probably 30-45 minutes. Take the lid off the last few minutes to brown up the cheeses.