“If your mother cooks Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?” ~ Martin Scorsese
Yesterday my wonderful friend and PA, Trish Lyons, came over so we could work on our new learning academy and website. So, of course, this occasion required lunch.
I whipped up a spinach and cheese cannelloni from fridge and pantry ingredients, and it took fifteen minutes from when I started to when it was ready to go into the oven. Fresh sheets of lasagne pasta are rolled into tubes that are stuffed with spinach, ricotta, feta, fresh parsley and then smothered in a tomato sauce, sprinkled with cheese and then baked.
This delicious, simple and hearty meal is so simple it hardly seems fair to call it cooking. No matter, we demolished it anyway.
Where did I learn to make this dish? I lived in a number of share-houses during my university days, and I fast learned that it was better for me to budget, shop and cook on behalf of the household than to leave it to friends who had perhaps only even made instant noodles or toast. One of my housemates had an Italian grandmother who lived with his parents. She didn’t speak much English, but whenever I visited them in their country town she would show me how to cook a simple dish, so I could keep her beloved grandson well fed. I was too tall for her grandson though, and too outspoken and career-minded, so she was pleased that I was not interested in him romantically. She wanted him to find a nice girl who would give him many babies and help look after his parents when they were old. I was happy just to learn her cooking magic!
This dish can be made in advance, and it freezes and reheats well too.
I hope you give it a try!
Lots of love, Nicole xx
Easy Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni Recipe
- 500g of chopped frozen spinach (or use fresh and blanched if you have it) – defrosted and with all of the water pressed out of it
- About 2.5 cups of ricotta cheese – I like to use a combination of 2/3 ricotta and 1/3 feta
- ½ red onion, finely chopped (or use any onion you have, or a handful of green shallots finely chopped
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- A big handful of chopped fresh parsley
- A teaspoon of nutmeg (or more if you like it)
- Salt and pepper to taste (if using feta you won’t need salt)
- Grated tasty cheese – about a cup (I like the cheese mix that has mozzarella, tasty and parmesan cheese in it)
- 6 fresh lasagne sheets
- 1 tin of diced tomatoes
- 1 large jar of tomato passata or a tomato-based pasta sauce
Place the spinach, ricotta, feta, ½ cup of the grated cheese, eggs, parsley and seasonings in a bowl and mix together
Mix the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce together in a bowl
Cover the bottom of a high-sided rectangular baking dish with the tomato sauce mixture
Lay the lasagne sheet lengthways and place 1/6 of the spinach mixture along the long edge nearest you. Gently roll into a tube. Place gently at one end of the baking dish. Repeat, placing finished cannelloni side by side until all lasagne sheets are rolled and the baking dish is filled.
Spread the rest of the tomato sauce over the stuffed cannelloni. Sprinkle on the remaining tasty cheese.
Bake in a moderately hot oven (200 degrees Celsius, 400 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly less for fan-forced) for 25 to 35 minutes or until cooked through and the cheese is golden.
Serve with good bread and a crispy garden salad. Or just eat it on its own!