Make your holiday dinner special with this classic Italian cannelloni pasta stuffed with creamy spinach, delicate ricotta and rich besciamella sauce.Your family and dinner guests will be wowed by this classic and traditional Italian primo piatto, perfect for your holiday meal: cannelloni pasta stuffed with delicate ricotta cheese and fresh, organic baby spinach.
And today I will share you my secret to make this cannelloni creamier than (maybe) you have ever eaten. You are probably familiar with besciamella, right? The heavenly creamy, rich, white sauce, used in lasagna and other oven baked pasta. I not only use besciamella sauce to cover the cannelloni before baking them, but I make some extra and add it to the ricotta and spinach filling. The inside of each cannellone will be soft and moist, creamy and cheesy. Yes! So much better this way.
Ingredients: to make around 16 cannelloni, serving 4-5
- around 16 cannelloni pasta, or lasagna pasta (a little less than one box)
- 12 oz (340 gr) fresh, organic baby spinach
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 10 oz (280 gr) of ricotta cheese (I used whole milk)
- 1 egg
- around 5 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese (divieded)
for the besciamella sauce:
- 3.5 cups (825 ml) milk
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (75 gr) of all-purpose flour
- salt, nutmeg
Preparation time: one hour
1. Simmer the spinach in slightly salted water for about 5 minutes.
2. Prepare the besciamella sauce using the quantities above and following this recipe
3. Drain well the spinach and cut in pieces. In a pan, saute' the garlic cut in slices with one tablespoon of butter. Add the drained spinach and salt to taste if necessary. Saute' for a couple of minutes, to remove the extra water and give the butter-garlicky flavor to the spinach.
4. In a bowl, mix together the spinach (I removed the garlic) with the ricotta cheese, the egg, and around 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Stir in one cup of besciamella sauce.
5. Preheat the oven to 375º F (190º C). Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of besciamella sauce on the bottom of a baking pan. Using a small spoon or a piping bag, fill the cannelloni pasta with the ricotta and spinach filling, and place them on the baking dish. It might get messy, but that's not a problem. Everything will be covered up with white sauce. You can always make your piping bag using wax paper or a sandwich bag, with one corner cut.
6. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining besciamella sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and finish cooking for 15 more minutes, until the cheese on top is melted and golden, and the pasta is fully cooked.
Serve hot! Buon appetito