Cannelloni is one of my favourite types of pasta. And not just because the tubes look great in a jar. Very much like lasagne, it give you the taste and texture of pasta, but with much more equanimity of flavour. Which is sometimes just what you need.
My favourite way to fill cannelloni is with spinach and ricotta cheese. This does, however, come with a small caveat. Be prepared to get messy. Of course there may well be a very tidy way of filling the tubes, but, as yet, I haven’t found it, so instead wade in with the full knowledge of what is before me.
The other wonderful thing about this recipe is that, even when you are a little tight on time, if you have everything ready to go, it takes no time at all. Well, not to prepare, anyway.
Whizz up some homemade Italian tomato sauce, and spread it in the bottom of an ovenproof dish so that it is just covered. Then, wilt a bag of spinach in a pan, transfer into a bowl, and roughly chop with scissors. Add one pot of ricotta cheese, or, if you’re wanting a more healthy version, a pot of cottage cheese. Add salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Mix together, and start stuffing. Place each stuffed cannelloni tube on top of the tomato base until you run out of space.
Now here’s a thing. I always cover the cannelloni with a cheese sauce, but you could, if you fancy it, just cover with a white (bechamel) sauce and put grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven for approximately 45 minutes at around gas mark 5. Take it out of the oven and let it stand for a few minutes before serving.
Of course you could, if you so desire, fill the tubes with bolognese, or anything else that takes your fancy. Which is also another wonderful thing about cannelloni. It lends itself to experimentation. Perfect.