Baked Cannelloni with Spinach, Ricotta, Feta and Bocconcini
We recently had a little holiday at the beach and had a night off to go out for dinner, just Pete and me. We went to a local Italian, very simple but lovely homemade fare. I had cannelloni, which was absolutely delish. Interestingly, instead of pasta, they used crepes, which I’d never seen before. Anyhoo, it gave me the cannelloni bug and I whipped this up for dinner the other day. I didn’t bother with the crepes, but used fresh lasagne sheets which were super easy. I had a google for a good recipe and, once again, Karen Martini didn’t let me down. This is comfort food at its best. The addition of mint and pea in the sauce rather than the predictable basil, really lifts the dish and gives it a slightly unusual flavour. The recipe didn’t call for spinach, but I couldn’t resist packing in some more veg to keep the boy strong. He gobbled this one down, two nights in a row, which made it all that more enjoyable for all. Be sure to use a strong full flavoured feta and full fat ricotta or the flavour just won’t be there. This one’s definitely on the repeat list.
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g parmesan, finely grated
150g firm feta, crumbled
½ whole nutmeg, finely grated
10 bocconcini balls, torn into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
250g fresh cannelloni sheets
Extra parmesan, to serve
Shredded mint leaves, to serve
80ml extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
400g can chopped tomatoes
700g bottle tomato passata
½ cup water
2 tbsp sugar
2 handfuls mint leaves
1 cup frozen peas
Preheat oven to 200C. To make cannelloni filling, put ricotta and eggs in a large bowl and gently stir to combine. Fold in 70g of the parmesan, feta, nutmeg and ½ of the bocconcini, and season with salt and pepper.
To make the sauce, heat 60ml of the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, but be careful not to burn it. Add the tomatoes, passata and water and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar, mint and peas, and season. Spread a little sauce over the base of a 20 x 30cm baking dish.
To assemble the cannelloni, spoon a little mixture along 1 long side of 1 sheet. Roll sheet into a log shape to enclose mixture. Put cannelloni, seam-side down, in dish. Repeat to make the rest of the cannelloni and place in the dish.
Spoon over the remaining sauce and top with remaining bocconcini and parmesan. Drizzle over remaining oil. Cover with a sheet of baking paper, then with foil. Bake for 1 hour, then remove paper and foil and cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Sprinkle top with extra parmesan and shredded mint leaves and serve.