Ali Matteini

a life creative

My Cucina Toscana: Cannelloni with Ricotta and Spinach


What’s not to love about cannelloni, lasagne’s close cousin and, just like lasagne, there are a myriad variations from a myriad provinces and villages and families…each as lovely as the last.

Today, here’s our easy and quick favourite made with ricotta and spinach. In a future post I’ll make a fried version. Oh, yes. Fried cannelloni. It only gets better.


Tomato passata, 1 cup + extra
Fresh ricotta, 500g
Spinach, cooked, chopped 1 cup*
5 or 6 lasagne sheets, fresh or dried**
Sage 1/2 teaspoon
Basil 1/2 teaspoon
Nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon
Garlic, 2 large cloves chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil x 1 tablespoon
Pecorino cheese, medio stagionato, 1/2 cup grated***
Parmisan, 1 tablespoon grated

*fresh or frozen spinach is fine, organic is best:


** when I say this is our ‘quick favourite’, it is made even faster with fresh lasagne sheets as you’ll need to soften dry sheets first in boiling water.

*** Pecorino [a type of sheep cheese] isn’t traditionally added to cannelloni, but too much mozzarella makes my tummy hurt. This is a locally made, pecorino from Castel del Piano:



Preheat oven to 180°C fan forced.
Add cup of tomato passata to the bottom of a lasagne tray measuring 25 x 20 x 4cm, or thereabouts. Sprinkle 1 clove of garlic and half the quantity of basil and sage over the passata, and season with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix the ricotta, nutmeg, spinach, salt, pepper and olive oil.


Boil a large saucepan of water and add lasagne sheets, one at a time, as needed. If you’re using fresh lasagne sheets, skip this step.
Working quickly, spoon a dollop of the ricotta mix onto the centre of each softened lasagna sheet, roll up and place in lasagne tray on top of the passata.


By the way, our cat Scottparker watches every step of my preparation and cooking, always. This is a moggy who sits when asked to and responds in Italian and English to a number of commands [questions, for cats, sorry. Not commands].
I fully expect to come home one day and he’ll have the table laid out and ready for us.

Repeat the process until you have finished the mixture and lasagne sheets, then drizzle the row of tubes with extra passata, cover with remaining herbs and the chopped garlic clove, then top with pecorino and parmesan cheese.

Pop this little tomato bath of heaven into the oven for about 25-30 minutes.
It should come out looking as delectable as this:


Leave it stand a few minutes before cutting and serving.
We ate our cannelloni paired with a glass of Chianti Riserva [cue Hannibal Lecter lip-smacking]. Then, as it is such a light dish, we had seconds.
Diet starts…never! 🙂



A Presto,

Cheers and Ciao,

Ali 🙂

Image Alison Matteini ©

Images Alison Matteini ©

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