Grated fresh nutmeg (just a sprinkling) or 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder (optional)
1/2tspsalt and pepper, each
18 - 22dried cannelloni tubes(Note 3)
1 - 1 1/2cupsshredded Mozzarella
More basil, for garnish (optional)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 2 - 3 minutes until translucent. Add tomato, water, salt and pepper.
Stir, reduce heat to medium, simmer for 5 minutes. Optional: add 1/2 cup water and blend sauce until smooth (I do this for guests!).
Stir through basil or dried herbs. Set aside.
Place spinach in a colander and press out most of the liquid (don't need to thoroughly squeeze dry).
Place Spinach in bowl with remaining Filling ingredients. Mix, taste, adjust salt and pepper to taste (different cheeses have different saltiness).
Assemble & Bake:
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Choose a baking pan which will comfortably fit about 20 cannelloni - mine is 21 x 26 cm / 8.5 x 10.5".
Spread a bit of Sauce on the base.
Transfer Filling to a piping bag with a large nozzle (that fits in the tubes), or use a strong ziplock bag. Or do this step using a knife (it's a bit tedious though!).
Pipe the filling into the tubes. Place in baking dish.
Pour over remaining Sauce, covering all the tubes. Cover with foil, then bake for 25 minutes.
Remove foil, scatter over cheese. Return to oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Serve, garnished with extra basil if desired.
1. Spinach - I use frozen spinach for the convenience and also because I'm a sucker for the whole "snap frozen" thing. To use fresh, use about 500g/1 lb sliced spinach leaves or baby spinach leaves, saute with a little oil to wilt down and remove excess liquid. Cool then proceed with recipe.2. Ricotta - Low fat ricotta is harder and drier, so it's more difficult to pipe into the tubes plus once baked, is not as juicy and moist. Avoid Perfect Italian brand in tubs. My favourite is Paesanella.3. Cannelloni - The cannelloni tubes I use are the dried ones sold in boxes at supermarkets and delis. They are about 11 cm / 4" long and 2.5cm / 1" wide. They do not need to be boiled before cooking in the oven. This recipe can also be used for manicotti which are larger tubes with ridges - use 10 to 12.You can also make this using fresh lasagna sheets. Just roll Filling up inside, place in the baking pan seam side down. I prefer using dried tubes - refer in post for the reason why.4. For FREEZING or refrigerating uncooked: Add extra 3/4 cup water* into Sauce, cook Sauce per recipe then blend* until smooth. Place filled, uncooked cannelloni in single or multiple dishes, cover with sauce (will look like LOTS!) then cheese. Cover, cool then freeze / refrigerate.On the day of, thaw then bake per recipe (covered then uncovered). OR bake from frozen, bake covered 35 minutes then uncovered 10 minutes.* The reason for extra water and blending: When uncooked cannelloni is assembled, the dry pasta will absorb some of the liquid as it freezes. If you don't add extra water, the sauce dries up once baked. Blending also helps here, plus it brings the sauce together better so it doesn't split when thawed.COOKED leftovers - refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze, thaw, then reheat covered in microwave for best results.5. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings.