Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni

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BESCIAMELLA SAUCE
• Ingredients
• 5 tablespoons butter
• 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 4 cups milk
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• ½ cup of parmesan cheese

Directions
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt, parmesan cheese and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.

SIMPLE TOMATO SAUCE
• olive oil
• ¼ of a carrot , grated
• a couple of stems of parsley , chopped
• ¼ of a celery stick, chopped
• Canned San Marzano Tomatoes
• 1 handful of basil leaves
• 1 clove garlic , crushed

To make a classic Italian tomato sauce, heat some olive oil, add the garlic. Then add the carrot, parsley and celery and fry gently until brown. Then add the San Marzano tomatoes. Stir in the basil and half a cup of water, simmer for 30 or more minutes until sauce is flavorful and reduced.  Use an immersion blander (or transfer liquid to a regular kitchen blender being careful because hot) to blend the sauce and make it smooth.  Set aside.

TO MAKE FILLING
2 egg, lightly, beaten
1 10 ounce package spinach, trimmed, cooked, drained, and, chopped
1 500 gram tub of good ricotta cheese
5 ounces freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 pinches of salt
2 pinches of pepper
1 pinch of nutmeg

In a large bowl mix the cooked and chopped spinach, the ricotta with the egg and the Parmesan cheese. Add a little bit of nutmeg if needed. Season generously. 

PUT IT TOGETHER
• Around 18 dried cannelloni pasta (if you can’t find them you can buy Manicotti pasta)
OR
• 18 instant (no boil) lasagna sheets (Barilla kind) OR fresh lasagna noodles
Spoon the ricotta and spinach mixture into the cannelloni tubes using a piping bag to squeeze the mixture. You can make your own piping bag by getting a Ziploc bag and putting the spinach mix into the corner of it. Then twist the bag up and cut the corner off. Carefully squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes so each one is filled right up – really easy. (If you are using the instant lasagna sheets, carefully cook them in a pot of simmering hot water for 4 minutes or until soft. Careful to not overcook or undercook. Pat dry and place the filling in the center and roll them to form a tubular shape. Make sure there is enough filling in each of them)
Place a little bit of tomato sauce at the bottom of a buttered baking tray. Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Now drizzle the Besciamella Sauce on top of the cannelloni (if it is too thick you can add a little water or milk until you can easily it over the cannelloni. Once covered, add a little more tomato sauce on top, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 350F covered with foil for about 30-35 minutes +  the last 5-10 minutes without foil to get it golden and bubbling.
Serve warm! Buon Appetito


Tips for freezing
 Allow the cannelloni to cool at room temperature before covering well with cling film, then freeze. Always freeze on the day you make it. Defrost uncooked cannelloni in the fridge overnight, then cook as per recipe. To cook from frozen: heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and cook, covered with foil, for 1 hr 25 mins. Remove foil, turn oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and cook, uncovered, for 20-30 mins.

Tips for freezing cooked cannelloni
 Freeze individual cooked portions in ovenproof dishes or foil trays. Simply reduce the cooking time slightly when re-heating.