Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

27.4.13


Laughing at myself here at my 'brilliant' attempt to re-photograph this when having friends for dinner...I am just not that person who can whip out her camera when everyone is sitting down to eat!!! So - voila - the pics I took of my husband (and his lovely arms) holding it before guests arrived and one more quick snap!  

My 18-year old son has a gorgeous vegetarian friend, Soraya, who has now left New Zealand on a year of grand adventure. We will miss her so much, but at least we can still enjoy some of the recipes her vegetarianism inspired, like this one which I originally made for her. The recipe looks long and scary, but it is so simple, I promise. Soraya, have a wonderful year, and I'm looking forward to cooking for you again!





Bechamel Sauce:
2 tbsp butter
4 tbsp plain flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 bay leaf
plenty of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg


Filling:
600g frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry 
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
375g ricotta
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 garlic clove, crushed
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Tomato sauce:
700g jar passata (crushed, sieved tomatoes)
200g tin crushed tomatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp caster sugar
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup vegetable stock or water

270g cannelloni tubes (I use the ones that don't need pre-cooking)


 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup pinenuts

You can make the Bechamel Sauce either on the stove top or in the microwave. Either way, melt the butter, add flour and whisk to a firm paste. Add the milk in two lots, whisking to combine until well incorporated. Keep stirring while cooking on the stove top, or in between bursts in the microwave, until thickened and smooth. If it misbehaves, just whisk more with a wire whisk until smooth - it should finish thick and silky. add the Parmesan, bay leaf, salt, pepper and nutmeg  and stir to combine. Leave to cool while you prepare the filling and tomato sauce.

Preheat oven to 180˚C (350˚F). For the filling, just whizz everything together in a food processor. Done. The tomato sauce is similarly simple - just pour everything into an oven dish about 32cm x 26cm and give it a whsik around with a fork.

Now if you have a big piping bag, use it, otherwise put your filling in a sturdy plastic bag and snip a cm off the corner and use this to pipe the filling into the cannelloni tubes. As you fill them, line them up snugly on top of the sauce. Cover with Bechamel Sauce (remove bay leaf first) and bake for 30 minutes. Top with mozzarella and pinenuts and a good seasoning of sea salt and black pepper and cook a furrther 10 minutes or until golden and bubbling. serve with a simple green salad. Serves 6





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