Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni – An Easy Dinner Idea

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Italian Is Always Best!

Spinach and ricotta cannelloni plate

Cannelloni are in essence pasta tubes filled with ricotta and spinach or cooked mince meats.

Even if Italy’s history of pasta goes back to the 4th century BC, to the Etruscans times, cannelloni seem to be a bit younger, their origin traced somewhere in the 8th century CE. There are mentions of this dish in Toscana and Campania around the same time, even if there is some distance between the two regions.

Today, all supermarkets sell packs of dry tubes, and this saves time in cooking cannelloni. Nevertheless, the Italians praise themselves for making fresh pasta for all occasions; they will probably go for the longer cooking time, the more caloric result and the unique taste of homemade food.

This recipe sticks with quick and easy, as always. If you have some time you want to kill and want to give it a try, here is an original Italian recipe for fresh pasta published by Italy’s most successful cooking website, Giallo Zafferano.

The choice is yours, but have a look at this comparison chart before you make a decision:

Dry Cannelloni/100g                                                           Homemade pasta/100g

Calories 357                                                                            Calories 130

Carbohydrate 79.3g                                                                Carbohydrate 23.5g

Protein 7.5g                                                                             Protein 5.3g

Fat 2.1g (Saturated 0.3g)                                                        Fat 1.7 (Saturated 0.4g)

Sodium 3mg                                                                            Sodium 83mg

Keep in mind that if you make fresh pasta, it will weigh around 400g, so the above values multiply at least four times. Homemade pasta is yummier, but it adds to calories.

What you need for six portions of Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni:

Spinach and ricotta cannelloni ingredients

One pack dry cannelloni (26 tubes)

500 g ricotta cheese

400 g fresh spinach

Three eggs

4-5 garlic cloves

One glass of white wine

200 g hard cheese (grated)

One tin of tomatoes (blended) or one jar of passata

Spices: salt, ground pepper, ground nutmeg

How you make Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni:

filled cannelloni tubes in tray

First, make a test with the tubes, see how they fill the tray you will use and how many pieces you need in total. Of a 250g box that contained 27 tubes, I used 26 that fitted my tray perfectly.

Preheat the oven to maximum 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5.

Wash and drain the spinach. Fill a saucepan with half a litre water (two cups approximately). When the water starts boiling, add the spinach and simmer for 20-30 seconds, until it softens.

Dry and cool the spinach under cold water to stop it from boiling and preserve the vivid green colour.

In a bowl, place the entire quantity of ricotta, add the battered eggs, the cooled spinach, the smashed garlic plus the spices and mix to incorporate well all the ingredients.

With this paste fill the pasta tubes using a teaspoon. If you prefer, you can place the paste in a plastic bag, cut a small piece at one of the corners to make a hole and fill the tubes one by one. I used a teaspoon, but I appreciate that a bag would make this process less messy.

Place the tubes in the baking tray as you fill them. If you have any spare paste, spread it on top, then spread the entire quantity of tomato puree over it. Lastly, pour the glass of wine on the sides; together with the tomato puree, it will soak the pasta tubes during cooking.

Place the tray on the middle rake and cook for about 40 minutes. When it is nearly ready, add the grated cheese and leave it another five minutes in the oven.

On this occasion, the only cheese I had in the fridge was a Provolone Picante semi-hard cheese with a strong aroma. A fussy eater that makes a third of my family was offended by the strong smell. I ignored them. Twenty minutes later, they licked the plate clean. Ha!

When it cools a tad, this easy to make version of spinach and ricotta cannelloni is ready to serve.

Because we only ate half of it for dinner, I kept the other half in the fridge and reheated it next day. It was still yummy!

Baked cannelloni with spinach and ricotta

Pour a glass of whatever white wine you used in the preparation and enjoy your dinner. Buon appetito!

This recipe is an example of an easier and healthier way to make cannelloni. If you feel like going for the full Italian recipe, you can find here how to make the béchamel sauce to add over the cannelloni before they go in the oven.

You will still have to add the tomato puree over the béchamel layer and, of course, follow Giallo Zafferano’s video instructions for fresh pasta mentioned in a link at the beginning of this recipe.

Spinach and ricotta are just one way of filling the cannelloni. However, as any pasta, this one is too a versatile recipe. If meat is your thing, you can prepare a completely different dinner.

I hope you enjoyed reading this recipe! Please share the love by saving this pin to your easy dinners boards; it will help this blog grow and motivate me to write more for your enjoyment! Thank you!

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Vagabond Around the World

Working as a journalist during university was pretty exciting. But landing a cruise ship job barely a year in my new graduate career was something else! Overnight, I moved from an already exhilarating job to an even better one. One that would allow me to wake up every morning in a different country. What more can a twenty-something wish for? The fact that I was fluent in a few languages helped. It made it easier to obtain the position I was seeking at the Shore Excursions department. Apart from dispatching tours in the morning and selling tickets in the evening, I would spend nearly every day on different trips. I did this a few years, spending half a year onboard and about two months at home. I enjoyed it immensely. I met fascinating people from all over the Globe and collected memories to last me a lifetime. Not to mention that I received a salary for seeing all those magnificent places the Earth has to offer! In an ideal world, everybody should live as they want. For me, that would translate into travel, then travel some more and keep travelling!

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9 Responses

  1. glowyshoe says:

    Oh this looks really yummy… Now craving for this dish.. Thanks for sharing

    http://www.glowyshoes.com

  2. Abby says:

    This looks absolutely delicious! And i love that it’s such a short prep time.

  3. Huy Hoa says:

    Will try this recipe this weekend. Thank you so much

  4. Jeannie says:

    Interesting recipe! Always love a good pasta meal, my carbo-load 🙂 I will try to find this kind of pasta noodles and do something similar will have to find vegan cheese. 🙂 Thank you for sharing

  5. Alyssa says:

    This recipe looks so good! I love a good Italian meal and I’m sure this one does not disappoint. Lasagna is one of my favorite foods and this has similar ingredients. Thanks for sharing!

  6. hari says:

    wow! love this.
    I am amazed at how easy it is to prepare.
    yes, Italian is the best. 100 percent agree.
    thanks for sharing this awesome recipe.

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