Today I’ll bring an all-time favorite into my house. Spinach and ricotta cannelloni is a fancy-like dish that in reality is quite simple, yet it’s made to impress.
I love all about this dish. Even here while I’m sitting writing this to you I can’t stop to drool over these pictures. I guess that I will have to make another batch of these cannelloni this week. There is no other way, lol.
The best thing about this recipe is that all are made from scratch. You will know exactly what is into the cannelloni.
For me, there are certain things that just are not so good when you buy them from the store. The perfect example is a marinara sauce and a ricotta and spinach filling.
I’ll warrant you that the extra minutes that you will spend in the kitchen — they are not as difficult as you may think — will give you a lot of flavors pay off.
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How to make the ricotta and spinach filling?
This filing is super easy and so tasty that you will want to eat it by itself with a bunch of crackers. I’m not even exaggerating how good this filing is.
You just need a few ingredients:
- Ricotta cheese: This will make a creamy filling. Low-fat ricotta may be too dry for this recipe.
- Parmesan cheese: Sometimes ricotta cheese can be a little bit dull, so adding some parmesan will get that pungent cheese flavor into the filling.
- Spinach (400 gr fresh, 200 gr frozen): It may look like a bunch of spinach but remember that when you cook it, it’ll lose 80% of its water and weight. To get the right consistency the spinach must be drained the best that you can. The less water, the creamier the filling.
- Nutmeg: A pinch of nutmeg brings all the flavors into the surface. Also, it gives a touch of earthiness and richness to the filling.
- 1 egg: This is to create a compact mix and to give it the right texture.
To get the ricotta and spinach filling you just need to mix these ingredients until you get a creamy filling. You can adjust salt and pepper according to your taste.
How to make the homemade marinara sauce?
Another great easy recipe that will save you a lot of time. As I said, when the ingredients are fresh this homemade marinara defeats any store-bought marinara that you’ve tasted before.
A good classic marinara must have tons of fresh minced garlic, olive oil and a base of crushed tomatoes. You can blend the canned tomatoes or crush them. I prefer the texture that it gives me when I just crush the tomatoes. That is up to your preference.
To season this marinara you will need some dried basil — fresh is good too — salt and pepper.
Now I will tell you my big secret for the perfect marinara sauce…. a pinch of sugar.
The sugar will tone down the acidity of the tomato and it will give a proper balance to the sauce.
Assembling the spinach and ricotta cannelloni
You can use a piping bag to fill the cannelloni or just a small spoon. The filling is thick enough that it won’t be too difficult to fill the cannelloni.
You will need a deep baking tray because when the cannelloni is cooking they will leak some sauce.
After you get your filled cannelloni, you will cover them with the marinara sauce and top with mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. The mozzarella will add the stringy and cheesy factor and the parmesan will create an irresistible “au gratin” crust.
Can you freeze these spinach and ricotta cannelloni?
Yes, the only thing is that it’s better if you freeze the cannelloni after baking them. If you freeze them uncooked the pasta will turn out soggy.
You can freeze these spinach and ricotta cannelloni up to 2 month without any issues.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and I see you in the next one
- 350 gr ricotta cheese
- 400 gr fresh spinach note 1
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 can crushed tomatoes about 400gr
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dry basil
- ½ tsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 400 gr Cannelloni pasta note 2
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
Cook the spinach for 5 minutes until losing most of its water and it reduces in size. Drain the water with the help of a strainer.
In a bowl mix all the ingredients for the filling until you get a creamy paste.
Fill in the cannelloni and place them in a baking tray.
To prepare the marinara sauce, pour the olive oil and the minced garlic into a small pan. Cook over low heat for a couple minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce. Cook for 15 minutes over medium heat until the sauce reduces.
Cover the cannelloni with the marinara sauce. Top with 1 cup of mozzarella and sprinkle 3 tbsp of parmesan.
Take to the oven for 25 minutes until the cheese is golden and crusty.
- If you want to use frozen spinach use half of the weight you would use with fresh spinach (for this recipe you will only need 200 gr frozen spinach). Defrost completely and drain the spinach before adding it to the mix.
- I like to use oven-ready cannelloni. In case you buy regular cannelloni you will have to boil enough water to cover the cannelloni and boil them for 2 minutes. Otherwise, the cannelloni will turn out undercooked and hard.