Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Awesome Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Dear Jess,

Over the past couple months, Jason and I have been getting to know his cousin Noel and his girlfriend Sarah. They are an hysterical couple who love having fun and laughing with and/or without reason.

Last night they had a joint birthday party and we found ourselves privileged with an invite. They decided on an Italian themed potluck dinner followed by some retro glow-in-the-dark bowling. I was thrilled to be assigned to provide a main course. In a flurry of excitement I ripped into my copies of Jamie's Italy, Jamie's Meals in Minutes and many other favourite 'go-to' cookbooks. I ended up finding the predestined recipe on his website. Please note as you're reading through the ingredients and looking at my pictures: I doubled the recipe! One single batch will serve around 6 people. I needed enough for 8, so I doubled the recipe and we ate a portion of it before the party to make sure it turned out as delicious as I planned.

Aaaaaaand it is!

It is so Italian, so delicious and it doesn't take forever.

The only thing I would like to point out is the part when you have to get the filling into your cannelloni noodles. Jamie says it's easy. And I think if this is a regular occurrence for you it would become easy... If it's your first time (as it was mine) it's a little tricky. The important thing is: it's do-able! So no worries. It's worth it all!

Awesome Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni 
adapted from Jamie's Dinners
2 knobs of butter
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a large handful of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
¼ of a nutmeg, grated
8 large handfuls of spinach, thoroughly washed
a handful of fresh basil, stalks chopped, leaves ripped
2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of sugar
400g light ricotta cheese

1 handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
16 cannelloni tubes, oven ready
200g mozzarella, broken up

for the White Sauce
1 x 500ml tub of light Greek Yogurt
3 anchovies, finely chopped
2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Then find a metal baking tray or ovenproof dish that will fit the cannelloni in one layer so it's nice and snug. This way you'll get the right cover of sauce and the right amount of crispiness on top. When I cook this at home I just use one pan to cut down on lots of washing up! Take your metal tray or a saucepan, put it on a high heat and add your butter, a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of oregano and the grated nutmeg. By the time the pan is hot the garlic should be soft. Put as much spinach as will fit into the pan. Keep turning it over; it will wilt quickly so you will be able to keep adding more spinach until it's all in. Moisture will cook out of the spinach, which is fine. By cooking it this way you don't lose any of the nutrients that you would if boiling it in water.

After 5 minutes, put the spinach into a large bowl and leave to cool. Place the pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, your basil stalks and the tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt and pepper and the sugar, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until you get a loose tomato sauce consistency. Then take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

By now the spinach will have cooled down, so squeeze any excess liquid out of it and pour this back into the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid, add the ricotta and then use a piping bag to squeeze the mixture into the cannelloni. You can make your own piping bag by getting a sandwich bag and putting the spinach mix into the corner of it. Then twist the bag up and cut the corner off. Carefully squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes so each one is filled right up.

Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Or you can pour the tomato sauce into your ovenproof dish and lay the cannelloni on top. To make the white sauce, mix together the Greek Yogurt, anchovies and the 2 handfuls of Parmesan with a little salt and pepper and spoon it over the cannelloni. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella pieces, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.

I hope you have such an amazing Christmas break! If I don't see you before you leave: safe travels! Have so much fun visiting Hogwarts! (So jealous...) Say hello to your parents for me. Enjoy the break and remember to take pleasure in our Lord Jesus Christ always. He is truly the reason for this season.

So Much Love,

1 comment:

  1. Sal and Jess,
    I can attest to the joy of this Italian treat as I got to partake from the smaller of the two dishes. And a good thing that it was smaller, as my mouth kept asking for more......
    Love to you both, S