Spinach & ricotta Cannelloni                    Jan 2018

One of the best things you can ever eat is home made pasta, I don’t make it as often as I should but this is the perfect recipe to get out the pasta machine or extra long rolling pin.

You can use shop bought dried or fresh pasta sheets, it will not be as good, 

but still good.

My wife has been filming in Dorset over the last few weeks and when I make this dish it really reminds me of her as I used to make this dish years ago when we had just moved into our first flat and I know how much she loves it. I think this could be why she married me.

I don’t make this very often but I might just have to make it again next week when she’s home.

This is a vegetarian recipe but is full of flavor, iron and vitamins it’s also filling enough for even the biggest appetites.

Ingredients and method, serves 6

  • For the filling
  • 500g of fresh spinach
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 500g of whole milk ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cups of pecorino cheese (or parmigiano)
  • 1/2 a grated nutmeg
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sautee’ the spinach with garlic and oil, cover with a lid and cook until just wilted. Set aside to cool and drain, you want to get as much liquid out of the spinach as possible.

Mix the ricotta with eggs, pecorino cheese, nutmeg, lemon zest, parsley  and seasoning.

Add the cooled spinach and mix to combine. Rest in the fridge to firm up.

For the sauce

400g of Italian tinned tomatoes

200 ml (3/4 cup) of hot water or white wine

1 onion, chopped

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

oregano leaves

For the topping

1 cup Parmigiano or pecorino and 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Sautee’ the onion in oil until soft and translucent, add the tomatoes and the water and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Season with salt  and fresh oregano leaves.

The Pasta

18 dried cannelloni shells or 1 quantity of fresh egg pasta dough

(If you have ready made pasta skip to “Assembling the dish” below.)

  • 290 grams of “00” flour, more as needed
  • ¾ teaspoon/3 g sea salt
  • 2 whole large free range eggs
  • 3 free range egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more if needed

How to make: 

In a food processor, pulse together flour and salt. Add eggs, yolks and oil and run the machine until the pasta dough knits together. If it looks a little dry, add a drop of olive oil. If the dough looks a little wet, add some flour until it is tacky and elastic.

Place the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for 8 minuets until smooth as a baby’s skin. Wrap in cling film and rest at room temperature for 1 hour or in the fridge overnight. 

Divide the dough into 4 pieces, keeping them covered with cling film. Using a pasta roller set to the thickest, highest setting, roll one piece of dough out into a sheet. Fold the sheet in thirds like a letter and pass it through the machine 2 more times on the same setting.

Reduce the setting, and repeat rolling and folding the dough, passing it through the machine 3 times before going to the next setting. For pappardelle and fettuccine, stop rolling when the dough is 1 setting wider than the thinnest one on your roller. For lasagna noodles, and for ravioli and other stuffed or filled pasta, go to the thinnest setting. 

Cut the pasta sheet into 18 4×10 cm 

rectangles, dust them with semolina flour and set aside

Assembling the dish

In a non metal oven tray. Smear a few tablespoons of tomato sauce over the bottom of the tray.

Fill each cannelloni or pasta rectangle with 2-3 tablespoons of filling. Roll the pasta sheet to enclose it and place it, seam side down onto the tomato sauce in the tray.

Repeat until you have a layer of cannelloni over the tray. 

If you cant fit them all in the try just use two.

Cover the cannelloni with the tomato sauce so that each pasta roll is cloaked in it. 

Dust the top with pecorino or parmigiano,  shredded mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and bake at 180 C  for 30 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Rest at room temperature for 20 minutes, then serve

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Cirio peeled plum tomatoes are the result of a long tradition and passion for tomatoes. 

And well worth paying a bit more for. Grown on sun-drenched Italian vines, only the plumpest, ripest, juiciest tomatoes with just the right colour intensity, texture and depth of flavour are selected. We then pick and can on the same day to give a fresh, distinctive and authentic taste of Italy. You can get these great Tomatoes in any good supermarket or grocers.

Agostino Recca can ($1.65/oz.), though most praised the large size and remarkable tenderness of the fish. "Very firm, meaty like good canned tuna" seemed to be the consensus. Well, that and, "Wow, this is salty!"

Barilla knows this best as it has produced durum-wheat pasta for more than 100 years, taking utmost care of quality, as it always has done, selecting the best wheat available and carrying out all the production processes up to the final check in the most efficient way. You can find Barilla Pasta in all good grocers and supermarkets.