Our Favorite Cannelloni

Finished Cannelloni. The top is golden brown, crispy, gooey, and absolutely delicious!

Finished Cannelloni. The top is golden brown, crispy, gooey, and absolutely delicious!

Stuffed Cannelloni

Stuffed Cannelloni

My first thought today is about the people in Oklahoma who endured a terrible storm, and lost many of their loved ones. My heart goes out to you.

I’m thinking about family, specifically, the beloved ones we’ve lost over the years – and I remember clearly the comfort we garnered from friends and family, and the nurturing they offered to us in the form of food during some of the most difficult times in our lives. They came with love packed in the form of casseroles, baked buns, bread, pies, and other dishes.

One of our family’s favorite comfort foods, and one that I make for loved ones during times of duress – is baked cannelloni. It is relatively easy to make, and easy to transport to give to friends if you think they might benefit from a warm and delicious meal!

This recipe is from Jamie Oliver. It is definitely one of the best cannelloni dishes I’ve ever had! Packed with spinach and ricotta cheese, a delicious marinara layer, with a wonderful layer of creme fraiche and cheese on top, the flavor is hard to beat! I hope you enjoy it! If you don’t have access to creme fraiche, a good substitute is sour cream, another is to make your own bechemel sauce.

Serves 4, with leftovers

2 knobs butter
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 large handful fresh marjoram or oregano, roughly chopped
¼ nutmeg, grated
8 large handfuls spinach, thoroughly washed
1 handful fresh basil, stalks chopped, leaves ripped
2 x 400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pinch sugar
400 g crumbly ricotta cheese
2 handfuls Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
16 cannelloni tubes
200 g mozzarella, broken up
For the white sauce
500 ml crème fraîche
3 anchovies, finely chopped
2 handfuls Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Then find a metal baking tray or ovenproof dish that will fit the cannelloni in one layer so it’s nice and snug. This way you’ll get the right cover of sauce and the right amount of crispiness on top. When I cook this at home I just use one pan to cut down on lots of washing up! Take your metal tray or a saucepan, put it on a high heat and add your butter, a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of marjoram or oregano and the grated nutmeg. By the time the pan is hot the garlic should be soft. Put as much spinach as will fit into the pan. Keep turning it over; it will wilt quickly so you will be able to keep adding more spinach until it’s all in. Moisture will cook out of the spinach, which is fine. By cooking it this way you don’t lose any of the nutrients that you would if boiling it in water.

After 5 minutes, put the spinach into a large bowl and leave to cool. Place the pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, your basil stalks and the tomatoes, then fill one of the empty tomato tins with cold water and add this too. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt and pepper and the sugar, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until you get a loose tomato sauce consistency. Then take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.

By now the spinach will have cooled down, so squeeze any excess liquid out of it and pour this back into the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid, add the ricotta and a handful of the Parmesan, and then use a piping bag to squeeze the mixture into the cannelloni. You can make your own piping bag by getting a sandwich 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.Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Or you can pour the tomato sauce into your ovenproof dish and lay the cannelloni on top. To make the white sauce, mix together the crème fraîche, anchovies and the 2 handfuls of Parmesan with a little salt and pepper, then loosen with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella pieces, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.