Ricotta & Spinach Cannelloni

With our headline promotion on Italian wines continuing until the end of this month, I think it appropriate to match classic Italian food with classic Italian wine. So here we go…

Ricotta & Spinach Cannelloni (Serves 4)

2-3 handfuls of fresh whole leaf spinach, chopped
500g ricotta
70-80g freshly grated Parmesan
1 medium egg, beaten
freshly grated nutmeg
350g napoletana sauce (to pour over the top – make your own)
250g pack egg pasta sheets
125g Mozzarella
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C and brush a large, shallow, ovenproof dish with a little oil. Add a handful or so of spinach to a large bowl and stir in the ricotta. Set aside 3 tbsp of Parmesan and add the rest to the spinach mixture with the egg and nutmeg. Season generously and mix well.

Mix the napoletana sauce with 150ml of cold water. Spread the ricotta filling over the egg pasta sheets and roll each one up. Arrange in the greased dish in one layer. Pour the napoletana sauce evenly over the top. Drain the mozzarella, thinly slice and arrange on the top. Sprinkle with the reserved Parmesan.n

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden and the pasta cooked. Serve with a salad of your choice and/or homemade garlic bread.

The wine match

For the red, a Sangiovese-based blend should work fabulously. Usually one you might think of anyway rich tomato sauces, but Sangiovese goes beautifully with that cheesy element as well, helped by the fact that it’s generally not too heavy and it’s got that trademark acidity to cut through the dish. Farnese’s Sangiovese, the 1489 Chianti or Dievole’s La Vendemmia would be perfect.

If white is your preference, try a Trebbiano. Although possessing more fruit restraint, Trebbiano has a savoury complexity, and again, crisp acidity to make for a wonderful food wine. Farnese’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is my pick for its almost creamy texture, matching well with the cheese, although the Soave is another sound option.

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