|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 55g||71%|
|Saturated Fat 29g||147%|
|Total Carbohydrate 65g||24%|
|Dietary Fiber 7g||26%|
|Total Sugars 13g|
|Vitamin C 39mg||196%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
This is a classic filled-and-baked pasta dish that is good at any time of year, and which makes great leftovers as well. You can even freeze any leftovers, which will keep for about three months if packaged well in a freezer-safe bag or container. To reheat frozen leftovers: let defrost in the refrigerator overnight, then heat in an oven as described below.
As with all Italian dishes, it's important to use high-quality ingredients for the best results. If at all possible, use larger, darker leaves of mature spinach rather than baby spinach or young spinach. It's much more flavorful and holds its texture better when cooked, rather than disintegrating into a somewhat slimy mess. Very high-quality ricotta is also essential. If you only have access to watery, chalky supermarket brands, try making your own ricotta! It's easier than you think.
Either sheets of fresh pasta or dried cannelloni tube pasta (cooked according to the package directions―be sure not to overcook) can be used; both give great results.
The ratio of spinach to ricotta is much higher in this more authentically Italian version. Many U.S. adaptations contain mostly ricotta just barely flecked with spinach, while it should really be larger chunks of hearty spinach with some ricotta and egg holding it all together.
Optional variation: You can spoon a ladleful of a simple tomato sauce over the bottom of the baking dish after the ladleful of besciamella, and another over the top of the cannelloni before covering them with the rest of the besciamella.
1 pound mature spinach leaves
7 ounces fresh ricotta
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
Fine sea salt, to taste
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
8 (10 x 12 centimeter/4 x 4 3/4-inch) sheets fresh pasta, or 8 dry cannelloni noodles
2 cups homemade or store-bought bechamel sauce
1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter, more for the dish
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 F. Grease a medium baking dish with butter.
Wash the spinach, discarding stems. Without draining the spinach, transfer it to a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until spinach wilts, about 10 minutes.
Drain well in a fine-mesh strainer, pressing down on the cooked spinach with the bottom of a wooden spoon to squeeze out as much water as possible. Chop the cooked spinach finely and transfer it to a medium bowl.
Stir in the ricotta, egg, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt, and nutmeg. Mix well to combine.
If using fresh pasta sheets: cook the sheets for 1 minute in boiling salted water, drain and immediately submerge in cold water; let sit in the cold water for a few minutes, then remove and let dry on a clean kitchen towel or large wooden cutting board.
Place a spoonful of filling close to the short end of the pasta sheet and roll up lengthwise to form a cannelloni. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets.
If using dry cannelloni noodles, cook according to package directions, drain and submerge in cold water. Drain well.
Fill each tube evenly with the spinach-cheese mixture using a small spoon.
Spoon one ladleful of bechamel sauce evenly over the bottom of the baking dish. Transfer the filled cannelloni to the baking dish in a single layer. Cover evenly with the remaining bechamel sauce, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Distribute small pieces of butter evenly over the surface.
Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.