These exceptional, filled pasta treats are exquisite gems of Italian cookery. The blend of spinach and cheese is legendary, but the addition of pine nuts (pignoli) adds a sweet, nutty flavor and texture to the dish.

Cannelloni with Spinach and Pine Nuts
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 5
  • 8 ounces spinach; stemmed
  • 2 Cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped toasted pine nuts
  • 1 jar Pecorino Romano Pasta Sauce (or Alfredo Sauce)
  • 8 ounces fresh egg pasta sheets; cut 10 pieces, about 4-inches by 6-inches each, cooked till just tender
  • 1/3 Cup grated Parmiggiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Place the spinach, with the rinsing water still clinging to the leaves, in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 1 minute. Transfer the spinach to a colander and press out the moisture with the back of a spoon. Chop finely.
  2. In a bowl, using a wooden spoon, beat together the ricotta cheese, egg, salt, pepper, pine nuts and spinach until blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Spread 1/4 Cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a 13- by 9-inch baking dish.
  4. On a clean work surface, lay down a sheet of pasta with the long side facing you and spread 1/4 Cup of the filling across the center. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the pasta around the filling. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets and filling. Arrange the cannelloni crosswise down the center of the baking dish. Pour 1 Cup of the sauce down the center of the cannelloni and sprinkle the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top.
  5. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden, about 20 minutes more. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining pasta sauce. Transfer to a small bowl and pass at the table.
This recipe yields 5 servings.

Comments: Pine nuts add a bit of crunch to this cannelloni filling. The seeds of pine trees, pine nuts are a rich nut with a sweet flavor. To toast them, place in a dry fry pan over medium heat and stir frequently until golden. Watch carefully because pine nuts burn easily.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 196 Calories; 14g Fat (63.1% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 92mg Cholesterol; 452mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.

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