Hrvatska! Hrvatska! Hrvatska!
Wow – I have no words! None! Well…maybe just a few. Croatia just won their Euro 2016 match against Spain, and I am way too excited about that to think about anything else! So, for a rare occasion, I’m going to make this very short and sweet: you should make this; it tastes amazing – just like Croatia.
(On a tiny side note, I highly encourage you to play around with the recipe’s measurements a bit. You may need more or less tubes to fill a row of your baking dish, depending on size, and my cheese amounts are obviously a mere suggestion. I added the shredded Italian cheese mix on top because I had it on hand after making my Hot and Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip for a staff party, but adding extra mozzarella is the easier and arguably less expensive route.)
Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
- 300 g. spinach
- olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 796 ml. can Italian plum tomatoes (San Marzano, if available)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 25o g. ricotta
- 6 large basil leaves, roughly torn
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- zest from 1/2 lemon
- 25 g. fresh, finely shaved/grated parmesan
- 175 g. cannelloni tubes (about 10-12)
- 125 g. pizza mozzarella
- 75 g. shredded Cracker Barrel Italiano cheese mix
- sea salt and ground black pepper
- Add a lug of olive oil to a large pot over medium-low heat. Toss in the spinach, then season with the nutmeg as well as 1/4 tsp. of sea salt and a pinch of pepper. Cook until the spinach is wilted and dark green. Remove the spinach to a small bowl, along with all the liquids the spinach produced while cooking.
- In the same pot, add another lug of olive oil, then toss in the onions and sweat for a few minutes until translucent. Add in the garlic and cook another minute. Add in the tomatoes, lemon zest, and basil.
- Using a masher, break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces, then turn up the heat enough to bring everything to a boil. Decrease heat to a light simmer and cook for 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
- Once things are simmering away, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350°F and ensure that you have a rack in the middle, and one directly below that as well.
- Once the spinach has had a bit of a chance to cool, remove to a cutting board, squeezing any excess liquid back into the bowl. Give the spinach a thorough chopping.
- In a medium-sized prep bowl, combine together the ricotta, spinach, parmesan, and egg. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid from the spinach, season with 1/4 tsp. sea salt and a pinch of pepper, then add to a piping bag.
- Carefully pipe your ricotta/spinach mixture into your cannelloni tubes, placing in a layer on the bottom of a medium-sized baking dish (I used a 9″ x 5.5″ x 2″, 1..8 quart Le Creuset dish and everything fit perfectly). Evenly distribute any excess mixture over the tubes, spreading with a spatula.
- Once the sauce has simmered for 20 minutes, remove from heat and season with 1/2 tsp. sea salt and a pinch of pepper. Taste, and season additionally if necessary.
- Pour the sauce over your tubes, spreading evenly with a spatula. Thinly slice your mozzarella and lay overtop of the sauce in a single layer, covering the entirety of the dish, then go ahead and sprinkle on the shredded cheese as well. Lightly drizzle the top with olive oil.
- Toss the dish onto the middle rack of your oven, and place a cookie sheet on the rack directly below in case your baking dish overflows.
- Bake for 40 minutes, covering the top with foil if the cheese browns too quickly. Alternately, if the cheese doesn’t brown enough, switch your oven to broil for a few minutes at the end and monitor closely.
- Once removed from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.