Spinach and ricotta cannelloni

This recipe is for the IHCC October potluck... I went out last week and was able to find two of Tessa Kiros cookbooks, she is the author they are currently featuring. I was so excited. From going through the two books I already have, I plan on ordering at least two of her other cookbooks. I really like her style of writing, and I have a huge list of recipes on my list to try already.

This recipe is from her apples for jam cookbook which is very fun, very bright, and a lot of the recipes are very versatile.

She says you can use egg pasta squares instead of crepes in this recipe, but I made it as written, except instead of plain diced tomatoes, I used fire roasted tomatoes. I really wanted to make the crepes to see what they were like in this recipe. They were easy to make and took no time at all. I made them in the afternoon during a break so when it came time to cook dinner after my barn chores, I had them ready to use.

Spinach and ricotta cannelloni 
From, Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup milk

Tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tbs olive oil
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
About 4 basil leaves
1/2 cup water

6 cups firmly packed spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh ricotta
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Bechamel sauce
4 1/2 tbs butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups milk, warmed
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the crepes, whisk the eggs in a bowl, and then whisk in the flour and a couple of pinches of salt. Add the butter, still whisking and then slowly incorporate the milk to make a smooth batter (I used a little extra to make it a little thinner and easier to use) Leave it to stand for 20 minutes or so.

Heat a little butter in a 6 inch nonstick frying pan. Add half a ladleful of batter and quickly swirl the pan around so that the batter covers it as evenly as possible. Cook until the underneath is golden, then flip the crepe over with a spatula and cook the other side. Move to a plate with the spatula and cook the rest of the batter. You will need 12 crepes and you should have enough mixture to allow for a couple of disasters (I had two minor ones.)

For the tomato sauce, heat the garlic with the oil in a saucepan and when you begin to smell the garlic, add the tomatoes. Season with salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes have melted. Add the basil and 1/2 cup of water toward the end of this time. Puree to a smooth sauce.

For the filling, rinse the spinach under cold water, shake off the excess and then put in a saucepan with just the water clinging to the leaves. Cook over medium-low heat, turning with a wooden spoon, until the leaves have wilted. Cool a little, and then squeeze out as much water as you can and then chop the spinach.
Put the spinach in a bowl with the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

To make the bechamel, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then begin adding the warm milk. It will be immediately absorbed, so work quickly, whisking with one hand while adding ladlefuls of warm milk with the other. When the sauce seems to be smooth and not too stiff, add salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and continue cooking, even after it comes to a boil for 4 minutes or so, mixing all the time. It should be a thick, full, sauce.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and grease an 8 by 12-inch baking dish. To put together, dollop some bechamel in the bottom of the dish, and rock it from side to side so that the bechamel thinly covers the bottom. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of filling along one side of a crepe and then roll it up tightly. Repeat until all your crepes are full. Line them up in the pan. Pour the rest of the bechamel over the top, then dot generously with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for about 40 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Let cool before serving.

These were so, so, good. It's so worth the effort to make the crepes, you won't be sorry. Trust me.

I'll try the ones with meat sauce next time.

My kitchen helpers were not being very helpful in the kitchen today, they had other things to do...

IHCC Tessa Kiros Button


Kayte said…
This looks fabulous, no kidding around, you did such a great job showcasing this recipe. All that oozy goodness! I think this is going to be a very good six months!
girlichef said…
Beautiful! I have this recipe marked to make, as well...and I'm so glad to see yours. YUM. YUM. YUM!!!
luckybunny said…
Thanks so much Kayte - I agree it's going to be a very good six months, lots of fun :)

Thank you girlichef, they are really yummy! Great the next day too.
Meredith said…
Wow what a classy-looking dish and it looks pretty tasty too!
MM said…
Your kitchen helpers really have it made!

This dish looks like something my family would love.
Kim said…
You really knocked it out of the park with this recipe! Everything about it screams wonderful. It looks like a labor of love that is well worth it:)

Welcome to IHCC!
I agree with you - definitely worth it to make the crepes. Can't wait to try this one.
Sue :-)
Deb in Hawaii said…
These look wonderful--I am loving that bechamel. A very delicious potluck pick! ;-)
I bet those kitchen helpers cleaned up any spills!
This dish looks so delicious, I can't wait to give it a try! I love all of the flavors and the crepes sound like the really knock these out of the park.

Loved reading your post and seeing all of your cute animal friends along the side. What fun days you must have with them :)
Oh goodness, that is some seriously sexy cannelloni! And the doggie - too cute!

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