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Cannelloni Stuffed with Spinach and Cheese

'Cannelle' means pipes in Italian, and 'cannelloni' means large pipes. This pasta dish is baked in a herby tomato sauce made with tinned, chopped tomatoes - which are useful for making quick and tasty sauces - especially if you add some extra fresh ingredients to give more flavour and body. If wished you can substitute basil or parsley for the oregano. Serve as a starter or main course, with a fresh, crispy salad and an Italian red wine such as a Chianti Classico. You will need a 12 x 9in (300 x 230mm) baking dish for this recipe.
Preparation time : 45 minutes,
Cooking time : 20-25 minutes,
Oven : Preheat to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4),
Calories per serving: 460

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
12 dried cannelloni tubes
1 lb (450 g) frozen or2 lb (900 g) fresh spinach
8 oz (225 g) curd cheese
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 x 14 oz (400 g) tins chopped tomatoes
1-2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
4 tablespoons red wine (optional)
1 oz (25 g) Parmesan cheese

method

1. If you are using frozen spinach, thaw and boil in a saucepan over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring all the time.

2. Turn the spinach into a fine sieve and press it with the back of a spoon to extract any remaining liquid. If you are using fresh spinach, wash it thoroughly, discarding any discoloured leaves or tough stalks, and then chop roughly.

3. Put the wet spinach in a pan and cover. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the leaves wilt, and drain well.

4. Transfer the spinach to a bowl, add the curd cheese and nutmeg, and season to taste. Beat well to mix. Divide the spinach and cheese mixture equally between the cannelloni tubes and spoon it in.

5. Put the chopped tomatoes into the saucepan. Finely chop the garlic and herbs and add to the tomatoes with the optional wine, and season to taste. Bring to the boil, stirring to break up the tomatoes as much as possible.

6. Pour enough of the tomatoes into a 12 x 9in (300 x 230mm) baking dish to cover the bottom. Lay the cannelloni tubes in the dish, side by side in a single layer, so that they form two rows of tubes that fit snugly together. Pour over the remaining tomato mixture.

7. Grate the Parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the cannelloni. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until bubbling. Serve straight from the dish.

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