ITALIAN CANNELLONI RICOTTA & SPINACH

This Italian cannelloni recipe with ricotta and spinach, is a typical filled baked pasta from Italian home cooking.

It’s indeed a must if you like Italian food…

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Made with small variations in many regions of Italy, it does represents one of the traditional Italian Sunday and holidays dish.

A successful recipe formed by rolled rectangles of egg pasta dough (how to make pasta), filled with ricotta, spinach, parmigiano cheese, spices, and covered with bechamel.

If this is you first attempt I have done an accurate tutorial here, to show you at best how to make Italian cannelloni.

My step-by-step pictures will really help you to over come those difficulties that you might face.

Instead, if you simply want to remind the precise amounts and ingredients, at the end of the page you’ll find the full recipe.

Cannelloni Recipe

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FULL RECIPE

ITALIAN CANNELLONI RICOTTA & SPINACH

Preparation Time:
Cooking Time:
Total Time:

INGREDIENTS: for 6 Cannelloni

  • 3 fresh egg lasagna sheets
  • For Cannelloni Filling

  • 1 cup (225g) fresh or precooked spinach
  • 1 cup (225g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup (60g) grated parmigiano cheese
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • grounded pepper
  • salt
  • For Bechamel Sauce

  • 2 tbsp (30g) grated parmigiano cheese
  • 1 cup (225 ml) milk
  • 2 tbsp (30g) white flour
  • 2 tbsp (30g) of butter
  • salt to taste
  • nutmeg to taste
  • For The Baking Dish

  • drip of cooking oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Begin by making cannelloni’s filling. Take spinach, ricotta and parmigiano cheese, an egg and put all in a bowl. Add salt grounded pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix all with a spatula.
  2. Cut in two the 3 sheets so to end with six rectangles of pasta. In a pot bring to biol the water, plunge the sheets in for 1 minute and then remove them to a clean towel.
  3. Take one rectangle and put on it ⅓ of cup (80g) of filling. Carefully roll with your hands to form the cannelloni cylinder. Repeat the same for all the sheets.
  4. In a small saucepan put the butter and let it melt. Add the flour and quickly whisk all. Slowly pour in at room temperature the milk, keep whisking, then add the parmigiano cheese too. Keep cooking for a few minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and nutmeg until a smooth creamy white sauce is formed.
  5. Grease with oil the bottom of an ovenware. Add some bechamel and place cannelloni side by side. Cover all with the remaining bechamel, then Sprinkle with all the parmigiano.
  6. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for about 20-25 minutes. Move the ovenware under the broiler just for the last 5 minutes so to gratin.
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STEP-BY-STEP CANNELLONI RECIPE

It’s a bit of long page, but it’s worth if you seriously want to make cannelloni. So lets begin to say that there are three methods to make cannelloni:

  1. The easy method is to buy ready to stuff and bake dry cannelloni cylinders.
  2. The less easy is to buy fresh egg lasagna sheets available at supermarkets and this was the method I used for this recipe.
  3. The most difficult is made from scratch with fresh egg pasta dough done by yourself.  

As I said, I usually make cannelloni just a bit less than easy, but still acceptable between taste and ease.

Italian Cannelloni Recipe

INGREDIENTS FOR 6 CANNELLONI

  • 3 fresh egg lasagna sheets or dry cannelloni cylinders
  • 1 cup (225g) fresh or precooked spinach
  • 1 cup (225g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup (60g) grated parmigiano cheese
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • grounded pepper
  • salt
  • drip of cooking oil for the baking dish

FURTHER INGREDIENTS FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE

Ingredients for bechamel
Cannelloni Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp (30g) grated parmigiano cheese
  • 1 cup (225 ml) milk
  • 2 tbsp (30g) white flour
  • 2 tbsp (30g) of butter
  • salt to taste
  • nutmeg to taste

HOW TO MAKE THE FILLING

Start by making first the filling. Put spinach, ricotta, parmigiano cheese, and an egg in a bowl.

Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.

With a wooden fork or spatula mix all together, and the filling is easily made.

HOW TO MAKE CANNELLONI CYLINDERS

Next step is to divide the pasta sheets in two rectangles suitable to make cannelloni.

In a pot bring the water to a low boil and plunge the sheets for a minute.

Remove the sheets and keep them on a clean dish towel until you are ready for the next step.

Manege always with care to avoid to break these thin sheets of pasta.

Put on each sheet of pasta about of cup (80g) of filling.

Repeat again until all the cannelloni are formed.

Roll with your hands the sheet to form a cylinder.             

Approximately you shuold get a rough cylinder like this one. 

HOW TO MAKE THE BECHAMEL SAUCE

Following from left to right.

In a small saucepan put the butter and let it melt.

Add the flour and quickly whisk all.

Slowly pour in at room temperature the milk, keep whisking, then add the parmigiano cheese too.

Keep cooking for a few minutes.

Season with a pinch of salt and nutmeg, until a smooth creamy white sauce is formed.

Beachamel Sauce

HOW TO COOK CANNELLONI

Take an ovenware and grease it with a little oil, then pour over the bottom some bechamel. Place each cannellone beside one by one. Cover with the remaining bechamel sauce, and sprinkle the parmigiano cheese over it. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Later move the ovenware under the broiler just for the last 5 minutes, so to make a nice gratin over the cannelloni.

FINAL TIPS

  • Keep cannelloni in the refrigerator for 1-2 days in an airtight container until you are ready to bake.
  • Freeze cannelloni raw for months, thaw in the refrigerator and bake them.
  • Bake cannelloni before, then freeze them. Once you need a ready meal, let them thaw in the refrigerator and then heat in the oven for 5 minutes.
Baked Cannelloni