Spinach and ricotta cannelloni

Classic cannelloni stuffed with spinach and ricotta.
Classic cannelloni stuffed with spinach and ricotta. Photo: Murdoch Books
Dietary
Vegetarian

Use a teaspoon to stuff the mixture into the tubes.

Ingredients

Tomato sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1-2 garlic cloves, chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

White sauce

50g butter

50g (⅓ cup) plain flour

750ml (3 cups) milk

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Filling

450g English spinach, stems removed, chopped (trimmed weight 360g)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

350g ricotta cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

16 dried cannelloni tubes , about 10cm long x 2.5cm wide (total weight about 175g)

125g (1 cup) grated mozzarella

60g (½ cup) coarsely grated parmesan cheese

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease an ovenproof dish measuring about 20cm x 26cm x 6cm.

2. To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for two to three minutes. Add the tomato, tomato paste, sugar and 125ml (½ cup) water. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the mixture thickens slightly, then stir in the basil.

3. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute. Remove from the heat, gradually add the milk and whisk until smooth. Return to the heat and stir until thick. Add the nutmeg and simmer for three minutes, or until the sauce boils and thickens. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. To make the filling, put the spinach and 100ml water in a large saucepan. Cover and cook for three minutes, or until the spinach has wilted, then refresh under cold water. Squeeze out any excess moisture with your hands and chop finely. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for two minutes, or until soft. Transfer to a large bowl, add the ricotta cheese, egg and nutmeg and combine with a fork. Stir through the spinach. Spoon into the cannelloni tubes.

5. Spread half of the white sauce onto the base of the dish then drizzle over half of the tomato sauce. Arrange the filled cannelloni tubes evenly in a single layer. Top with the remaining white sauce then tomato sauce and sprinkle on the cheeses. Bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked. Stand for 10 minutes before serving.