There is just something so comforting about a creamy pasta dish. Comforting doesn’t have to mean unhealthy and we have lightened up a popular Italian dish in this Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni that still has all of the flavour, but less of the calories.
We try to make our recipes as quick to make as possible, but this one is probably not the quickest. This is something to make when you have a little bit of extra time to spend in the kitchen, but it’s definitely worth spending the time on.
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Traditionally, spinach and ricotta cannelloni is a calorific dish and whilst we have kept the ricotta in it, since it’s a key ingredient, we have made some lighter changes elsewhere. We have mixed together low fat yoghurt and egg for the topping and a little bit of mature cheese, rather than using a white sauce and loads of mozzarella. You still get all of the creaminess, but it is much lower in fat. That’s a win-win to me!
Just call us the batch cooking king and queen at the moment! We are loving anything that we can cook a lot of and then freeze it in portions. Avery has started going to lots of play groups and that little lady has got a better social life than I have ever had! Some days she has 2 different groups to go to, so that means that Dannii and I are kept busy.
Being busy doesn’t mean that delicious and healthy eating has to take a back seat, because we are batch cooking meals like this and putting them in the freezer ready to pull out when we don’t have any time to cook. We throw together a quick green salad and dinner is ready!
It’s not just the spinach and ricotta that give this meal all it’s flavour, but the tomato sauce! Like in most Italian meals, the tomato sauce is key, so that is why we only use Cirio tomatoes! The flavour of them is much more intense a flavour than any other tinned tomatoes and you can immediately taste the quality.
For this recipe I used Cirio Peeled Plum Tomatoes as they crush down into a sauce well, but retain a little chunkiness, giving a lovely texture to the dish. Cirio’s plum tomatoes are grown on sun-drenched Italian vines and only the plumpest, ripest, juiciest tomatoes with just the right colour intensity, texture and depth of flavour are selected. They are then then picked and canned on the same day to give a fresh, distinctive and authentic taste of Italy.
We have loads of great batch cooking recipes that we have been experimenting with and we will be sharing those over the year. We are going to help you to fill your freezer with healthy meals, so you can reach for them, rather than convenient junk.
Ingredients – Serves 6:
– 150g Cannelloni (about 15 tubes)
– 350g Spinach
– 250g Ricotta
– 4 tbsp Olive Oil
– ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 Medium Onion, finely diced
– 2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
– 2 tins (400g each) Cirio Peeled Plum Tomatoes
– 10 Basil leaves, torn to small pieces
– Zest of a lemon
– 1 egg, beaten
– 350g Fat free Greek Yoghurt
– 3 Eggs
– 30g Mature Cheddar
– 2 tbsp skimmed milk
– 1 tsp Sea Salt
– ½ tsp White Pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.
2) Put the spinach, 3 tbsp oil and ¼ tsp nutmeg in a large pan over a low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the spinach and sweat it down, stirring occasionally. Once cooked, place in a bowl and cool.
3) In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and gently cook the onions. Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil and lemon zest. Crush the tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes.
4) Squeeze the moisture from the spinach into the bowl and chop the spinach on a chopping board. Put the spinach back into the liquid. Stir in the ricotta and egg.
5) Fill the cannelloni tubes with the spinach and ricotta mix and place in a 20x25cm baking dish.
6) In a bowl, beat the Greek yoghurt, 3 eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and cheese together.
7) Spread the tomato sauce over the cannelloni tubes making sure all tubes are coated.
8) Pour over the yoghurt mix, covering the tomato sauce.
9) Bake for 40 minutes.
Nutritional Information – Per Person:
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**This Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni recipe was commissioned by Cirio, however, all opinions are my own**