Friday, 25 July 2014

Easy Family Dinners - A Basic Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni Recipe

I have regular meals I cycle through weekly or fortnightly as a Mum to many. My dinners need to be very easy to make and quick to prepare and pretty much no-brainers.
While the kids are at school, my day is taken up with cleaning, washing, baby care and blogging. I don't even consider dinner while they are gone as there's just too much to do. (Apart from grabbing something from the freezer to defrost, such as meat, on the way to getting stuck into the giant list of duties I face daily.)
Before I know it, 4pm rolls around and there's kids everywhere, and the trails of mess and noise are back in full swing. It's a real why did I bother moment for me; I can barely enter my own kitchen for a sea of little people and the house looks as if I have done nothing all day.
I bet it's the same at your house?
Dinner needs to be fast and easy so that I can stay on top of things into the evening and not drain too much of my fading energy.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni is one of our favourite things and I have been preparing this recipe for years. If you do have the luxury of time in your day, you can make it hours ahead and refrigerate until needed or get really motivated and organise to freeze half of a double batch for a meal on another stressful day.

1 large box of pre-cooked cannelloni tubes, (I use Barilla.)
250-300gms of ricotta cheese,
1 bunch of fresh spinach cooked and chopped or one 250gm pack of frozen spinach cooked and cooled.
2 egg yolks,
Salt and pepper to taste,
Ground nutmeg to season,
1/2 a cup or more of Tasty cheese,
2 cloves of fresh garlic chopped or 2 heaped teaspoons of prepared garlic from a jar.


1 tin of diced tomatoes,
1 jar of prepared pasta sauce (ie Dolmio)
Fresh chopped basil leaves and Italian parsley,
Salt and pepper to taste
A dash of olive oil.

Parmesan, extra Tasty cheese and sliced tomatoes to top.

Mix the ricotta, spinach, egg, seasonings, cheese and garlic together in a bowl and set aside.

In another bowl, mix the ingredients for the sauce together. (Drain a little of the tomato juice off from the diced tomatoes to reduce the water content.)

Place a dash of olive oil into the base of a rectangular baking dish and pour enough pasta sauce to line the base.
Begin stuffing the ricotta mixture into your cannelloni tubes. (I use a cake fork to do this as they do the task perfectly.) Place each filled tube in a line in your dish until you have filled a row. Pour more tomato sauce mix on top and begin the process again until you have finished your filling.
Top with the remaining sauce and sliced tomatoes, cheese and some fresh herbs to decorate.

Bake in your oven at 200 degrees C for 30 mins (middle shelf) or until piping hot. Cover with foil if the top is browning too quickly.
Serve with garlic bread and vegetables on the side.
Serves four as a stand alone dish (or more if you have picky little people like me). One dish serves all eight of us at our house but our kids eat like birds! Serve with lots of extras if you want to extend it further.

New helping skills this week: Up on the stool and into the cutlery drawer for a dig in the spoons.
The teething Missy prefers to chomp on a soft spoon at the moment (self-selected of course), and likes the noise and mess she can make when she's in this space.
Want something special for dessert too?
Try Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding or Chocolate Mousse to fill any gaps in your appetite.

When do you manage to prepare your family meals in your busy day?
Do you have a family favourite dish too?
Recent posts on Six Little Hearts you may have missed:


  1. Yum! This is the kind of food I love! Kx

  2. This is a regular item on our menu too, I love it!

  3. Looks like a great idea for comfort food!! Yummy!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  4. I think you just helped me plan one of my meals for the week ahead... :)

    1. It's a perfect recipe for freezing too so make an extra quantity and save yourself some time midweek.

  5. Yum! I have the ingredients for this one!

  6. I've never made this dish before but I love that it's vegetarian and the spinach is disguised under the sauce!!

  7. Oh yum! I have only made cannelloni once before and it was broccoli and cauliflower, a Jamie Oliver recipe I think. Pinned it.
    I guess this is one of those meals your family will remember with love in years to come :)

    1. That sounds really interesting Alicia and I may have to check that one out.
      I have had an obsession with spinach and ricotta cannelloni since I had it at a restaurant and I have never looked back.

  8. Oh yum! That looks delicious. I used to make a fine mushroom cannelloni back in the day, but I haven't attempted it recently. This should be a hit with the family!

    1. Lara, I'd love the recipe for the mushroom one.
      I haven't tried a meat cannelloni yet and plan to experiment with that next :D

  9. I just stick to boring old spag bolle but this does look a bit different and with my boys starting to get a bigger appetite I'll have to start cooking bigger meals!

  10. Sounds like a great meal and I'm sure my kids would enjoy a change from lasagna. Will be trying this week.

  11. This is just the kind of meal we love to eat over here too ;) Love the idea of making a double batch and freezing it so it's ready to pull out on one of those hectic 'no time to cook' evenings.

  12. delicious! saw this all over the weekend in my feeds ... yum
    thanks for linking for sunday brunch xx

  13. I use lasagne sheets and spread the cheese mix onto it then roll it up like a swiss roll. It is really quick and easy :-)


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