Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Home Cooking Basics: Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

I have a very dear friend who is an amazing cook. She frequently invites me over for meals at various times of the day, and always has some delish vegetarian dish she's just whipped up for me to test drive. Around Christmas-time she made a spinach and ricotta baked pasta dish that I just loved. She emailed me the recipe and I gave it a go on the weekend with my new oven.

The recipe calls for conchiglioni shells (large shells), but since they're hard to find (I tried four different stores with no shells before giving up), I decided to use lasagna sheets instead and turn it into cannelloni.

The recipe is a family one combined a book recipe for the directions on cooking and using the lasagna sheets.

  • 1 packet fresh lasagna sheets
  • 1 bottle / batch of red pasta sauce (I make my own, but you can use a store-bought one. Just make sure it's a large bottle)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 500g ricotta 
  • 1/3 or 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Frozen spinach (I threw in 6 clumps in this dish, but you probably only need around 4 as it was a bit too spinachy)

1. Preheat oven to around 180 (fan-forced).
2. Cut lasagna into equal strips the size of the cannelloni you want to make. Make sure they fit the size of the baking pan you're going to cook in length ways.
3. Boil water in a large saucepan. When water is on the boil, drop 1 - 2 sheets of cut lasagna into the saucepan at a time to cook. Leave in until just before al dente. Should be about 1 - 2 mins. Remove with a wide spatula with draining holes in it. Place on the bench on a damp clean tea towel or damp paper towels to cool. Do not let them overlap.
4. In a large fry pan or saucepan, pour in a small amount of oil, brown garlic and onion. Add red sauce and simmer for 15 - 30 mins until it's a deep red in colour.
4. Cook spinach to directions. Make sure you remove all water or the cannelloni will get soggy.
5. In a large mixing bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, parmesan cheese and spinach.
6. In a large baking pan, spoon or brush a small amount of the sauce over the bottom to just cover it.
7. Make the cannelloni by picking up each lasagna sheet and spooning the ricotta mixture down the centre. Fold the sides up and overlaps the edges to make a cigar-shape. Place in pan seam-side down. Repeat, adding each cannelloni tightly next to each other, without squashing them.
8. Divide the sauce into two parts. Add water to one part to make it runny, and spoon over the cannelloni in the pan. This is to make sure it doesn't dry out. Leave the remaining mixture on the stove at low heat.
9. Place foil over pan, and then put pan in oven for 30 mins. Remove foil and bake for another 10 mins.
10. Remove pan from oven, sit for 10 mins. Dish up required cannelloni on places and spoon on hot fresh sauce to serve.

Lasagna sheets cut and ready to cook.

Garlic and onion browning in the pan.

Cooking the lasagna sheets.

Little lasagna sheets cooling off.

Filling mixture.

Making the cannelloni.


Tomato sauce bubbling away.

Placed on the tomato layer in the pan.

Sauce added on top.

After being cooked in the oven.

Sliced through.

Plated with the fresh sauce on top.

1 comment:

  1. divine! makes me very VERY hungry, I'll be trying this!