Ricotta and spinach cannelloni recipe
STEPS 5 INGREDIENTS 10 TIME 75-80 MINS
With its creamy ricotta cheese and moreish bechamel sauce, this was the first cannelloni recipe I ever tackled and it’s great fun to cook… it not only teaches you how to make bechamel sauce (important for numerous baked Italian dishes), but the tube-stuffing step is nice to get your teeth into and really makes you feel like a creative cook.
Best of all, you can speed up the preparation process by getting a little helper involved and multitasking – you make the sauce while your budding assistant(s) mix the stuffing and fill the tubes. Truly kid-friendly stuff!
Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose 'Save target/link as' to save for later.)
For the sauce
½ liter/1 pint of low/half-fat milk
1½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
100g/3.5oz cubed butter (plus 1 extra knob)
60g/2oz plain/general all-purpose flour
For the rest
100g/3.5oz packet cannelloni
250g/8.8oz frozen spinach (ideally thawed)
250g/8.8oz soft ricotta cheese
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Large cooking pan
Baking dish (to fit one flat layer of cannelloni)
Optional: cake icing bag
STEP 1 - Pour the milk into the cooking pan. Half-fill sieve with flour and gently shake into the pan, gently mixing in the flour. When all the flour is done and lumps are gone, you’re done.
STEP 2 - Put pan on maximum heat hob for 2 mins to get milk warming. Then turn down to half the heat so milk doesn’t boil.
- Add one-third of the nutmeg (½ teaspoon), the cubed butter and half a handful of salt. Stir gently.
The idea now is to keep slowly stirring until the butter melts and the sauce then turns creamy. This takes roughly 10 minutes (or double that if doubling this recipe to serve 4).
- When the sauce is so thick it just drips off the spoon, it’s ready.
STEP 3 - Now for the cannelloni’s stuffing.
- Fry spinach in your frying pan with a knob of butter and pinch of salt for 2-3 minutes (a little more if it’s completely frozen – it should thaw and begin to cook slightly).
- Add spinach to the mixing bowl, with the remaining nutmeg, a tablespoon of grated parmesan, and pinches of salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly.
STEP 4 - Cover the bottom of your oven dish with a light layer of bechamel sauce (removing the skin first if one formed).
STEP 5 - Now let’s make our spinach cannelloni and finish up!
- First, set your oven to 180C/350º fahrenheit.
- Grab one ‘cannellone’ and use a teaspoon or cake icing bag to fill with the mixture (hold pasta vertically so that gravity can help).
- When full, lay flat in the oven dish.
- Repeat until the dish is full with one flat layer of tubes.
- Cover top generously with rest of the sauce, and add good sprinkle of parmesan.
- Pop in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes.
Serve with: I prefer a clean white wine such as sauvignon blanc with this dish. Other than that, nothing!
Next time: why not throw some small cubes of chopped ham into the stuffing for a tasty carnivorous fix?
3 more bechamel sauce recipes:
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