Cannelloni With Spinach, Raisins and Pine Nuts

READY IN: 55mins




  • If using fresh spinach, rinse but do not drain. Cook, covered in a large saucepan over medium heat in the water clinging to the leaves, till wilted, about 4-5 minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Transfer the spinach to a colander and drain, when cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess moisture. finely chop the spinach. (if using frozen, thaw and press out excess moisture).
  • Heat 2 T of the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat.
  • Add the garlic, pine nuts, raisins and ham, if using, and cook till the pine nuts and garlic are golden, 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the chopped spinach and cook for about 1 minute, stirring to distribute all the ingredients evenly.
  • Season the spinach with salt and pepper to taste, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the butter with the remaining 1 T olive oil in a heavy, medium sized saucepan over medium low heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the milk in a steady stream, and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking occasionally, till the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Set about 1/2 cup of the spinach mixture aside.
  • To finish off the filling, stir 2/3 cup of the sauce into the remaining spinach, set the rest of the sauce aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F; lightly butter a 12x9 gratin dish or shallow ceramic baking dish.
  • Bring 5-6 quarts water to a boil over high heat.
  • Place a large bowl of ice water next to the pot.
  • Working in two batches, boil the sheets of pasta, stirring to separate them, till al dente - about 2 minutes for fresh pasta and about 6 minutes for no boil lasagna noodles.
  • Using tongs, transfer the noodles to the ice water to stop the cooking.
  • Lift the noodles from the water, shaking off excess and lay them flat on a dry linen towel.
  • Repeat with the remaining pasta, bringing the water back to a rolling boil before adding the second batch.
  • Pat the pasta dry with paper towels before filling it.
  • Place about 1/4 cup of the spinach filling close to one end of a noodle (if using lasagna, use the long end), shaping it into a compact log.
  • Starting with a long end, roll up the noodle, then cut it in half crosswise.
  • Place the filled noodles seam side down in the prepared dish.
  • Repeat with remaining noodles and filling.
  • The filled noodles should fit snugly in a single layer.
  • Stir the reserved 1/2 cup of spinach and any of the filling you may have left over into the served sauce and spread evenly over the cannelloni.
  • Sprinkle the cheese evenly on top.
  • Bake till the cannelloni are hot and the top is browned and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
  • If you'd like the top more browned, pass the dish under the broiler for a few minutes.
  • Let cool for a few minutes then serve straight from the baking dish.