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Euro 2012 Cooking Challenge – Italy

Today’s recipe is one of my favourite Italian dishes. It isn’t difficult to make but involves making three separate sauces so I tend to make it when I have a bit of time to spend in the kitchen as opposed to it being a quick 10 minute pasta dish.

The combination of the basil-rich Napoli sauce, the creamy spinach filling and delicious cheesy topping is a match made in heaven!

So much so that I am having it for both my lunch and dinner today!


For the Napoli Sauce:

A good glug of olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finally chopped

A handful of fresh garlic, the stalks should be finely chopped and the leaves roughly torn

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

A glug of balsamic vinegar

A good pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper

For the Spinach and Ricotta Filling:

8-10 cubes of frozen spinach or one big bag of fresh spinach

400g of ricotta cheese

Salt and pepper

100g of fresh Parmesan, grated

A grating of nutmeg

A box of cannelloni tubes

For the Topping:

A tub of crème fraiche

100g of fresh Parmesan, grated

How to make it

  • Preheat your oven to 190°C, Gas Mark 5
  • Begin by making the Napoli sauce
  • Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the garlic and fresh basil stalks for a few minutes
  • Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper
  • Cook on a medium to low heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced
  •  Add the basil leaves and allow to cool
  • Pour the sauce in the bottom of your dish
  • Now make the spinach and ricotta filling
  • If using frozen spinach, defrost and if using fresh spinach, wilt the leaves and allow to cool
  • In a mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well
  • Add the spinach and stir again until combined
  • Some recipes recommend doing this step with a piping bag but I just do it by hand…a bit messier but it works every time!
  • Stuff the cannelloni tubes with the filling ensuring there aren’t any air bubbles
  • Layer the tubes on top of the tomato sauce
  • Now make the topping
  • Mix the crème fraiche and Parmesan cheese and spoon over the top of the pasta tubes
  • Top with a little grated cheese and pop in the oven for about 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving and enjoy with a green salad

About hannahhotcakes

My name is Hannah. I live near Bath in a lovely village in the Cotswolds with my husband Ian, the love of my life for the past 10 years, in our dream cottage. I have landed my dream job as a primary school teacher and I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. I am a self-confessed foodie and I love to cook, bake, and eat out as much as possible. Here are some things I love: My friends and family, travelling, fresh flowers, good books, having breakfast on my balcony, horror films, Christmas, tea, Las Vegas, lie-ins, red wine, Liverpool FC, music, sausage dogs, Spain, rare steak, fashion, cheese, American TV series and camping. And here are my pet hates: People dressed as animals, whistling, being rushed, being made to wait, girls who act stupid to impress a man, spiders, sunburn and rocket (it comes with EVERYTHING!)

2 responses »

  1. This recipe sounds and looks amazing! I love that you are doing a Euro cooking challenge. 🙂


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