There's nothing better than bringing to the table a piping hot dish of freshly made Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni. Making them at home is easy and it's so satisfying. It's the perfect pasta dish for a Sunday family meal or for the Holiday table and I'm sure that everyone will love them.
If you're craving a hearty and oh-so-delicious meal, look no further than this mouthwatering Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni! Pasta tubes filled to the brim with creamy ricotta cheese and garlicky spinach. All topped with smooth creamy bechamel sauce, melted mozzarella cheese, and crispy browned Parmesan cheese. This dish is like a warm, cheesy hug on a plate, ready to comfort your taste buds after a long day.
Preparing this dish is a breeze, perfect for both kitchen beginners and seasoned chefs looking for a quick fix. As the cannelloni bake to golden perfection, your kitchen will be filled with an irresistible aroma that'll have everyone eagerly awaiting dinner time. Whether you're cooking for a cozy family dinner or impressing friends at a gathering, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni is your ticket to a satisfying, heartwarming meal that will leave smiles on faces and plates wiped clean. So, grab your apron and get ready to create a dish that's as delightful to make as it is to devour!
- Cannelloni Tubes: Use Cannelloni or Manicotti tubes from any good Italian pasta brand.
- Spinach: You can use either fresh or frozen spinach. I tend to prefer frozen spinach because it's easier and faster to cook.
- Ricotta: Use good quality fresh cow milk's Ricotta cheese. It should be quite dense when removed from the mold. If it's too soft and watery, drain it in a cheesecloth for at least 30 minutes.
- Garlic: I only use one garlic clove to give a mild garlicky taste to the spinach. If you want a stronger taste, you can minc the garlic or add more. You can also use garlic powder to taste.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated Parmigiano works best to create a delicious golden crunchy crust on top.
- Butter, Flour, and Milk: These are the ingredients to make Bèchamel sauce from scratch. You can use either salted or unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, and whole or 2% milk. Season with salt, black pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Check the recipe card for quantities.
- White Sauce: If you don't want to make homemade Bèchamel, you can also use jarred storebought white sauce. If it's too dense, add a bit of fresh milk and whisk until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Cannelloni Pasta: If you cannot find dried Cannelloni tubes, you can also buy dried or fresh Lasagne sheets and boil them one by one for a couple of minutes. Then rest them on a kitchen towel to cool until you're ready to fill and roll them.
- Tomato Sauce: Add a layer of marinara sauce or make your own simple tomato sauce by slowly simmering tomato passata, olive oil, and garlic.
- Zesty: If you want to add a zesty touch, add some lemon zest or lemon juice to the ricotta and spinach filling.
- Meaty: Cook some sausage or ground beef or chicken together with the spinach, or add some chopped-up ham to the creamy spinach filling.
Instructions with Photos
Step 1. Cook the frozen or fresh spinach with olive oil and garlic. Drain the excess liquid.
Step 2. Mix the cooked spinach with the Ricotta and Parmesan cheese to make the ricotta filling.
Step 3. Make the white sauce by cooking melted butter with flour, then add the warm milk. Simmer at low heat until creamy. Season to taste.
Step 4. Spread a layer of bechamel sauce at the bottom of the baking dish.
Step 5. Using a piping bag, fill the cannelloni tubes with the ricotta and spinach mixture.
Step 6. Add the filled cannelloni to the baking dish.
Step 7. Add the mozzarella pieces on top of the spinach ricotta cannelloni.
Step 8. Cover the cannelloni with the remaining sauce, then sprinkle abundant grated cheese on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven.
Making Béchamel or White Sauce from scratch
Béchamel (more commonly known as White Sauce) is one of the 5 Mother sauces of classical cooking and is considered essential for the creation of many traditional dishes of French and Italian cooking.
You can find it in classic Italian recipes like Cannelloni, Lasagne, Pasta al Forno, and so on. It's the perfect sauce to use in gratins, especially when there is melted cheese inside, as it acts as a binding element to all the ingredients.
TIPS for the perfect Béchamel sauce:
- Let the butter melt completely before adding the flour.
- The Roux (butter and flour mix) should become a thick paste. Cook it for a few seconds before adding the milk.
- Warm milk makes it easier to dissolve the roux but it can work also with room-temperature milk (it will just take more time).
- Use a whisk to mix the sauce while it simmers, it will prevent lumps.
- Keep the heat to a minimum and keep mixing, otherwise, it will stick and burn to the bottom of the pan.
- Season correctly with the right amount of salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. Taste it!
TOP TIP: If you want, you can also prepare this white sauce a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container (max 2-3 days). If it becomes too dense, you can add a little bit more milk and whisk energetically.
To save time, I prefer to use dried Cannelloni Pasta, but you can absolutely make fresh pasta too! Follow the recipe to make fresh pasta from scratch and cut the pasta sheet into squares (about 6x6 inches), pipe the filling in the center and roll them.
Sure! I prefer the all-white cheesy Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, but if you prefer, you can add a layer on top of marinara or Ragù sauce.
Yes, you can prep the whole baking dish with the filled cannelloni in advance and store it covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for 1-2 days. Then bake them in the preheated oven just before serving.
You can store leftover cannelloni in an airtight container or covered in the fridge for up to 3 days. Or you can freeze them for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge and reheat in the microwave or in the oven.
Elevate your special occasions with the ultimate family favorite Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni recipe! Whether it's a holiday feast or a simple weekend treat, this cannelloni recipe is guaranteed to become a tradition that brings joy and flavor to every family gathering.
You can find step-by-step photos, and tips in the post above.
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Classic Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
For the Cannelloni
- 9 oz Cannelloni Pasta, (c. 10 pcs)
- 1 cup Ricotta
- 10.5 oz Frozen Spinach
- 1 Garlic clove
- Olive Oil
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
- 1 Mozzarella
- Black Pepper
For the Béchamel Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- 1 tablespoon All Purpose Flour
- 1 ⅔ cups Whole Milk, warm
- Black Pepper
Prepare the Béchamel sauce:
- In a large pan melt the butter at medium heat (be careful not to burn it), add the flour and whisk until it becomes a thick paste.
- After a few seconds, add the warm milk and keep whisking until the milk starts to boil. Turn the heat to low and slowly keep whisking until the roux it's completely melted and the sauce starts to thicken.
- When the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the filling:
- Peel and cut in half a garlic clove, then drizzle some olive oil in a pan and fry the garlic for a couple of minutes.
- Add the spinach (either fresh or frozen) and cover the pan with the lid. Mix with a wooden spoon a few times until they start to reduce in size (if necessary, add a few tablespoons of water to the pan).
- When the spinach are fully cooked, season with salt, black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Drain them well and finely chop them. Set aside to cool down.
- Once the spinach are cooled, mix them with the fresh Ricotta. Add 2-3 tablespoons of Parmigiano cheese and season again to taste.
Assemble the Cannelloni:
- Spread 2-3 tablespoons of Béchamel sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Pour the filling in a pastry bag without the tip and fill the Cannelloni pasta from top to bottom.
- Place the stuffed pasta in the baking dish.
- Roughly chop the Mozzarella and scatter all over the top of the pasta.
- Pour the white sauce on top of the Cannelloni, covering completely the pasta also on the sides (otherwise it will not cook).
- Evenly sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of Parmigiano cheese on top to make a nice crust.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven at 200°C (400°F) for about 30 minutes (check also the pasta packaging for precise instructions as each pasta brand is slightly different).
- Serve immediately.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.