In this cannelloni recipe, a few good ingredients allow you to cheat your way a little bit. First, I use a really good quality tomato passata. The passata means I can make a great tomato sauce with very little effort.
If you want to cheat a little more, use your favourite shop bought tomato sauce.
I also use a good creamy buffalo mozzarella cheese as a topping rather than making a cheese sauce as some cannelloni recipes do. Again, you can substitute any cheese you like that melts well here.
1 tablespoon of olive oil
800mls/1½ pint/3.5 cups of tomato passata or tomato sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Pinch of sugar
1 handful of fresh basil leaves (if you don't have fresh basil, I like to use a heaped teaspoon of dried oregano. Obviously the flavour is different but I think it works better here than dried basil)
300g/10½oz frozen or fresh spinach, cooked, chopped and excess water squeezed out.
375g/13oz/1½ cups of ricotta cheese (regular cream cheese can be used here)
6 tablespoons of grated parmesan (a third of a cup) or similar vegetarian cheese
Dried (no pre-cook) cannelloni (about 16 tubes)
200g/7oz of buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced or any cheese you like
You will also need an oven-safe dish like this good strong Cuisinart Chef's Classic Lasagna Pan
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6.
2. Next make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil gently in a pan, add the garlic and soften for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the passata, herbs, sugar and salt and pepper and cook for about five minutes. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta, egg and about half of the grated parmesan. Season with some salt and pepper.
5. Now you are ready to stuff the cannelloni tubes with the filling. You can do this with an icing bag if you want. I usually just use a small fork. Just remember that if your cannelloni packet doesn't specifically say that it doesn't need to be precooked, then you may need to boil it for a few minutes before using. Check the packet to be sure.
6. Spread a large ovenproof dish with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Cover with the stuffed cannelloni and pour over the tomato sauce. Spread with sliced mozzarella and the remaining parmesan. Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5-10 minutes
This cannelloni recipe will serve four people generously as a main course. It's great with a green salad.