An iconic duo in Italian culinary circles, spinach and ricotta often go hand in hand to make delicious fresh pasta dishes, and this cannelloni is no exception. This combination can be traced back hundreds, if not thousands, of years in Italian history, with ricotta thought to have its origins in the ancient Roman period when it would have been made and consumed by humble shepherds. Having stood the test of time, it is no surprise that this pairing remains popular and is used in many different dishes across Italy to this day. Our cannelloni bake is just one example of the wonderful creations that can be made with these ingredients. Another of our favourite dishes is spinach and ricotta ravioli. Try our quick and tasty recipe today!
Make our delicious spinach & ricotta cannelloni
Prep time: 1 hour
Calories per serving: 527 kcal
For the filling:
- 12 tubes cannelloni
- 500g fresh spinach
- 250g ricotta
- 30g parmesan, grated
- Nutmeg, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the tomato sauce:
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 x 400g tins tomatoes
- Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 30g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 250ml milk
- 30g parmesan, grated
- Begin by preheating your oven to 200°C (180°C fan).
- Use boiling water to wilt the spinach in a sieve, squeezing out any excess water and leaving it to cool down.
- Gently heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the crushed garlic and fry for a minute or two, don’t let the garlic burn or stick to the pan. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the basil leaves and a little salt and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes then turn off the heat.
- In a clean pan, melt the butter over a low heat. When it is completely melted, add the flour and stir until it’s fully mixed. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring constantly so that no lumps form. When all the milk is added, turn off the heat and add the parmesan to the sauce, along with a generous amount of salt and pepper to taste.
- Drain the spinach as much as you can and roughly chop it before putting it in a large bowl. Add the ricotta, and the nutmeg and parmesan, combining all of the ingredients thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Now, fill each tube of cannelloni with the spinach mixture using a teaspoon. Try and ensure each tube receives a similar amount of filling.
- Next, pour half of the tomato sauce into a large ovenproof dish or roasting tin. Spread the sauce out evenly and place the cannelloni tubes on top to form another layer. Pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the cannelloni and top with the cheese sauce. You can even add a little grated parmesan to the top if you want a nice crispy layer to finish your cannelloni bake.
- Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately, buon appetito!
Spinach and ricotta cannelloni wine pairing recommendation
Although the acidic nature of the tomato sauce is somewhat offset by the creamy ricotta, you still want a wine with enough acidity to counterbalance it. Nero d'Avola, a fruit-forward red wine with strong tannins and decent acidity, will provide just that. The tannins will be balanced by the milky ricotta and the acidity will match that of the tomato sauce. Prefer white? A dry Italian white like Pecorino would also work wonderfully – this wine has enough acidity to match the sauce and a complex minerality that will highlight the leafy spinach filling.