Italian · Pasta, Stews and Casseroles

Baked Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Cannelloni


Ricotta and spinach are like best friends. They always gel well together and compliment each other in the best possible way! This pasta bake is perfect for any weekend dinner. Who doesn’t like a pasta bake? It’s easy to make and since it’s made in one big baking dish, it is a  family style dish. It’s rustic but at the same time very impressive. The cannelloni or tube pasta is filled with a ricotta, mozzarella and spinach filling that is lightly flavoured with nutmeg. It is then covered generously with a delicious, yet simple tomato basil sauce, topped with more mozzarella because why not? Finally it’s baked to a bubbling golden brown perfection.

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I used the ricotta cheese from Mooz formaggio which was in the gift hamper that I had got. Since the ricotta was not enough for stuffing all the cannelloni’s, I made some homemade ricotta and added it with the ricotta that I got. You can use either store bought (but make sure it is of good quality) or if you have the time and you are willing to take the extra effort, make your own ricotta.  Off late, I am not able to post regularly due to my exams, so please excuse me for that. I will try my best to post more often. 🙂 Let’s get to the recipe now…

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Ingredients: (Serves 3)

  • Cannelloni tubes- 9 (I used the one from Barilla)
  • Grated mozzarella cheese- 1/2 cup or 52 grams

For Ricotta & Spinach Filling

  • Ricotta cheese- 250 grams
  • Spinach leaves- 180 grams or 3 cups of tightly packed spinach leaves (Washed, drained and then chopped finely)
  • Grated mozzarella cheese- 1/2 cup or 52 grams
  • Salt and pepper- to taste
  • Grated nutmeg- 1/4 teaspoon
  • Garlic- 1 clove; finely chopped
  • Chopped fresh basil or parsley- 1 teaspoon
  • Olive oil- 1 teaspoon

For Tomato Basil Sauce

  • Tomato purée- 1 1/2 cups or 360 ml
  • Onion- 1 small; finely chopped
  • Garlic- 2 cloves; finely chopped
  • Red chilli flakes- 3/4 teaspoon
  • Basil leaves- 5-6
  • Dried oregano- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Olive oil- 2 teaspoons
  • Salt and pepper- to taste
  • Sugar- 1/4 teaspoon

Method:

For Ricotta & Spinach Filling

Add the ricotta cheese to a bowl and beat it a little until smooth. Heat the oil in a pan over a low flame and allow it to become hot. Once it becomes hot, add the chopped garlic to it and sauté it for a minute. Add the chopped spinach leaves and sauté until it begins to sweat or the water begins to come out; about 1-2 minutes. Remove and set it aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180° C or 350° F. Grease a 8 inch round or square tin with little oil.

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Once the spinach is cool drain the excess water and squeeze out as much water as possible but reserve this spinach water as it is very nutritious and will be added to the sauce later. Mix the drained spinach with the ricotta cheese along with the chopped basil/parsley and grated nutmeg. Season it with a little salt and pepper. Finally add the grated mozzarella and mix it until well combined. Set it aside and make the sauce.

NOTE– Make sure you do not over season with the salt because even the sauce will have salt and cheese also contributes to it.

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For Tomato Basil Sauce

Heat a saucepan with olive oil and once it is hot, add the chopped garlic and onion and sauté it until the onion starts to take a light golden colour. Add the tomato purée and reserved spinach juice to it and allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes. After 2-3 minutes, add sugar, dried oregano, torn basil leaves, chilli flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow it to simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and the oil is seen on the surface. Taste it and adjust the salt and pepper but do not make the sauce salty because even the filling and cheese has salt. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool a little.

tomato-basil-sauce

Empty the ricotta & spinach filling into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle and fill the cannelloni tubes. If you do not have a piping bag, just use the back of a spoon to fill the cannelloni tubes tightly with the filling. Place the filled cannelloni tubes over the greased baking pan adjacent to each other. Add around 1/2 cup or 120 ml of water to sauce (This will provide the moisture needed by the pasta to cook). Pour the sauce over it, sprinkle the 1/2 cup of mozzarella over it and bake for 28-30 minutes or until the sauce starts bubbling, the top has become golden brown and a knife inserted into the pasta goes in smoothly without any resistance

stuffing-the-cannelloniServe hot. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Baked Ricotta & Spinach Stuffed Cannelloni

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