#STFFcooks – Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

21st September 2013
Growing up with a mother who is a fantastic cook was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I was lucky enough to have some wonderful meals cooked for me every day of the week and even to this day my friends talk about the gourmet sandwiches I used to take to school! A curse though because my mom was incredibly territorial of her kitchen and this was one of the main reasons I never really learnt how to cook until much later. Fast forward a few years and I am living in a house share in London, having to call my mom for instructions on how to make most dishes. My Australian flatmate got fed up of this and eventually dragged me into the kitchen to teach me how to cook. This dish is the very first dish that she taught me how to make. It is really simple, but always a winner!  It has been adapted slightly over the years as I have become a little more confident but the essence of the recipe is still hers. So here’s to you “Water Girl” for unearthing my love of cooking!
RECIPE # 8: Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 500g Baby Spinach leaves
  • 1 tub Ricotta Cheese (or if you want to make this very low fat replace with Quark)
  • 1 x large onion
  • 2 x Garlic cloves
  • Cannelloni shells
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 1 x tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x small pinch of sugar
  • 50g x grated cheese (such as cheddar)
  • 50g x grated parmesan cheese
  • For the white sauce:
  • 50g x plain flour
  • 50g x butter or margarine
  • 300ml x milk
  • 300ml x vegetable stock
  • 1 x level teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
Instructions
  1. Open the bag of spinach and place it in the microwave for about 2 minutes until all the leaves have wilted. Remove and let cool.
  2. Once the leaves have cooled enough to handle, squeeze out all the excess moisture.
  3. To a food processer add the onion, garlic and wilted spinach and whizz until finely chopped. (You could do this by hand, but I always find that you never get the mixture fine enough)
  4. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  5. Add the ricotta cheese (or Quark if using instead) and mix together well.
  6. In a large Pyrex dish add the tinned chopped tomatoes and a small pinch of sugar to take away the sharpness of the tomato. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Stuff the spinach mixture into the uncooked cannelloni shells. I find it’s best to do with your hands. Layer on top of the tinned tomatoes. Leave a little space in between each as they will spread out as they cook.
  8. Now make the white sauce.
  9. To make the white sauce:
  10. I cheat by throwing all the contents into the pot together. This usually prevents any lumps.
  11. Add the flour, butter, milk, vegetable stock and Dijon mustard (if you’re using) into a medium sauce pan.
  12. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens.
  13. Do not take your eyes off the pot!
  14. Once it starts to bubble, remove from the heat.
  15. Add half of the cheese and stir until it has melted.
  16. Now that the white sauce is made, pour it over the stuffed cannelloni shells ensuring that all are covered.
  17. Add the remaining grated cheese and parmesan cheese.
  18. Cover with tin foil and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  19. After 30 minutes, using a sharp knife, check if the shells have softened.
  20. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes until the cheese has browned.
Notes
This is lovely served with a few garlic bread slices and a fresh side salad.

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