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Make Ahead Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Make Ahead Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni


For the tomato sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp castor sugar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 x 400g cans of crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper
A handful of fresh basil leaves, leaves separated from stems, then stems roughly chopped 
1 tbsp butter

For the filling:
1/2 x kg bag of frozen spinach
50g parmesan, grated
500g ricotta
Fresh nutmeg
Salt and pepper
250g box dried cannelloni

For the topping:
25g parmesan, grated
50g grated mozzarella (optional)


Defrost spinach then squeeze all the moisture from it (I use a tea towel) and chop roughly. Set aside.

For the sauce: Heat the oil, over a low heat, in a large pan and add the garlic. Cook gently for a minute or two then add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, some salt and pepper and the chopped basil stems. Bring just to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 mins until reduced and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat then, if desired (and I always do) use an immersion blender to blend and smooth the sauce - but you are very welcome to leave it 'chunky'. Add the butter and the basil, stir to combine and melt the butter, and leave to cool to room temp.

For the filling: in a large bowl combine the ricotta, parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg, mixing until well incorporated. Add the squeezed and chopped spinach and mix well. Pile into an 18 inch piping bag (or large plastic bag, snipping off a small corner).

Heat oven to 180C. Oil a large baker and smooth about 1/3 of the tomato sauce all over the base. Fill the cannelloni tubes by squeezing the ricotta/spinach into each tube. Lay the tubes in a single layer on top of the tomato sauce. Then top with the rest of the tomato sauce, the extra parmesan and the mozzarella if using.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and cook for a further 10 mins. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Top with additional grated parmesan and roughly chopped basil if desired.

This dish can be frozen, baked or unbaked, on the day it's prepared. Defrost overnight in the freezer to serve the next night.


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