Last Friday afternoon Cristina and I were trying to plan out how to start the weekend right. The answer: Embark on a semi-involved, multi-faceted dinner adventure!
We called turned to our tried and true culinary bible, also known as Myra Goodman’s Food to Live By and decided to tackle the “Farm Stand Spinach Cannelloni”. We made a few adjustments, such as adding browned ground turkey, mushrooms, and mozzarella. We are SO glad we did. The cannelloni were much heartier and not drowning in ricotta. We also had leftovers for dayssss (which is in no way a bad thing).
Farm Stand Spinach Cannelloni
(from Food to Live By)
8 lasagna noodles (10 inches in length)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced shallots or yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 pound (about 12 cups) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1 large egg
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesean cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus coarsely chopped parsley for garnish
3 cups Marinara Sauce
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles and cook according to the package directions until just tender. Do not undercook the lasagna noodles because they will not continue to cook in the oven. Drain the noodles well and lay them out flat on a clean dish towel (not terry cloth) so they do not stick together.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large, preferably nonstick, skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute.
3. Add about a quarter of the spinach to the skillet and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until it wilts, 2 to 5 minutes. Continue adding spinach until all of it has wilted. Drain the spinach mixture in a strainer, pressing down on it to extract the liquid. Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium-size bowl and let it cool.
4. Place the ricotta cheese, egg, nutmeg, pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesean cheese and the minced parsley. Stir to combine. Add the cheese mixture to the cooled spinach and stir to combine.
5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
6. Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
7. Cut each lasagna noodle in half crosswise to make 16 pieces, each 4 to 5 inches ong. Place a piece of lasagna noodle on a work surface. Spoon 1/4 cup ofthe spinach filling along the short edge of the noodle and roll it up to encose the filling. Repeat with the remaining pieces of noodle and filling. Arrange the cannelloni in the baking pan, side by side, seam side down, fitted closely together.
8. Cover the Cannelloni with the remaining 2 cups of marinara sauce and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of Parmesean cheese on top. Prepared up to this point, the cannelloni can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days. They can be frozen for up to a month; wrap the baking pan tightlly in several layers of plastic wrap before freezing (there’s no need to thaw the cannelloni before baking, but you will need to increase the baking time by 30 minutes).
They were really delicious. Really, really delicious.