If you’re anything like me, dried cannelloni tubes are the kind of thing that you buy with great expectations and 6 months later you find them still sitting at the back of the cupboard.
This recipe is an easy way to use cannelloni in a rustic home-cooked meal, like a baked lasagne but with tubes. You could use lasagne sheets here too, just make sure they’re egg-free to keep it vegan and layer it up instead of filling.
Spinach, basil, and garlic are the perfect veggie filling and the cream cheese introduces a creamy tang that nicely cuts through the sweet tomato sauce. All in all, a heavenly combination of Italian flavors.
This recipe makes the perfect amount for a cozy and romantic dinner for two but would double nicely to make a dinner party main or family meal.
Creamy Baked Spinach Vegan Cannelloni
- 500 ml passata (strained, uncooked tomato)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 6 medium crushed garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp agave syrup (or sugar)
- 1 tsp (+ 1/2) sea salt
- 175 ml water
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 250 g spinach (chopped)
- 25 g fresh basil (chopped)
- 200g vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 8-10 dried cannelloni tubes
- 100 g grated vegan mozzarella
- 2 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil, chopped)
1. Prepare the sauce. In a large saucepan add the passata, tomato purée, 3 crushed garlic cloves, olive oil, agave syrup, 1 tsp sea salt, and the water.
2. Allow to simmer on medium for 20 minutes, until it has thickened up nicely. Stir regularly.
3. Prepare the filling by melting the butter in a large frying pan. Add the chopped spinach and basil followed by the remaining garlic cloves.
4. Stir everything together until the leaves are coated in the butter and sauté on medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is wilted and reduced in size.
5. Take off the heat and stir through the cream cheese, and 1/2 tsp each salt and black pepper.
6. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
7. Once it’s cooled slightly, fill the cannelloni tubes with the spinach mixture. Use a knife or another thin utensil to press it in – there should be enough mixture to pack the tubes well.
8. In either a small square dish or a long rectangle baking dish, line up the filled cannelloni. The sauce should now be ready.
9. Once all the tubes are lined up pour over the tomato sauce. If you are doing two layers as I did you will need to add some sauce after the first layer to make sure the pasta tubes are fully covered or they won’t cook properly.
10. Add the grated vegan mozzarella to the top followed by the chopped sun-dried tomato pieces.
11. Bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through to make sure it cooks evenly.
12. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and serve with a fresh salad for a filling meal.
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Photo: Anna Burgoine