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I had spinach, ricotta and Parmesan in the fridge and tinned tomatoes in the cupboard so my mind went naturally to cannelloni. When our children were small we often had this delicious treat but I made it with hard instant pasta tubes. It was quicker and less work than lasagne but still carried the occasion of baked pasta. Now as we have more time on our hands, I was time to try it with fresh rolled pasta.

Marcella Hazan had a recipe with meat sauce and bechamel, from Emiglia Romana, but I'm not a big fan of this creamy sauce so I consulted Claudia Rodin and found the recipes from Campagna with tomato, ricotta, spinach, mushroom and even buffalo mozzarella.

It is said to be invented in Amalfi although there are a number of plausible stories of its origins. I like the one about the chefs of two elegant Amalfi restaurants competing for the perfect dish. When the judge tasted cannelloni he stood, with his napkin still tucked under his chin and ordered all the bells in Amalfi to ring!

Yes, it is that delicious!!

When made with rolled fresh pasta it is a soft dish with the perfect ratio of pasta to sauce and filling.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

For the pasta

1 and a half cups of semola (Italian hard wheat flour) and 1 cup of doppio zero flour.

( if you don't have Italian flour, 2 cups of plain white flour works fine)

3 eggs

pinch of salt

Add salt to the flour then break the eggs into a well in centre. Mix and knead well to make an elastic and smooth dough. Add more flour if it is too wet. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out into thin sheets or put through the lasagne setting of your pasta machine a number of times. They should be as thin as lasagne sheets. Cut them into pieces 6cm x 8cm.

The sauce

I 400g tin chopped Italian tomatoes or equivalent of passata.

6 tablespoons of olive oil

I clove garlic


In a small saucepan, put the tomato, the oil, a pinch of salt a garlic clove, cut into a few pieces. Cook on a slow heat until the oil and tomato separate.

The filling

500g of ricotta

A bunch of spinach

100g of grated Parmesan

salt and black pepper


Put the ricotta into a bowl and mix in the grated cheese.

Cut the spinach reasonably finely and cook until wilted. Drain and squeeze the liquid out, cool and cut finely.

Add this to the ricotta mixture.

Put in salt and pepper and grate in some nutmeg.

Mix well

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. When it is at a rolling boil, put a 2-3 sheets of the pasta at a time into the water and cook them for a couple of minutes. Place them on a clean tea towel to drain.

Putting it together

Oil a flat baking dish about 18cm x 9cm

Cover the bottom with a layer of the sauce.

On each piece of pasta, spread a layer of the ricotta filling, not too thick.

Roll the pasta and place in the dish. Repeat and put each rolled pasta alongside another in the dish until it contains a single layer.

Pour the remainder of the tomato sauce over the cannelloni and sprinkle with Parmesan.

( if you want, you can put slices of mozarella on the very top)

Bake in an oven set at 180 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

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