This beautiful dish celebrates leafy seasonal greens – they’re packed full of nutrients such as folic acid, which our bodies need to make red blood cells, keeping us awake and alert.
1 hour 30 minutes
- 2 onions
- 6 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- 450g fresh seasonal greens, such as kale, chard, cavolo nero, nettles, rocket, borage
- 450g frozen chopped spinach
- 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
- ½ a lemon
- 250g dried cannelloni tubes
- 1 fresh red chilli
- 1 bunch of fresh basil (30g)
- 3 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
- 30g Parmesan cheese
- 250g ricotta cheese
- 1 large free-range egg
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
Peel and finely slice the onions and 4 cloves of garlic and place in a large non-
stick pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook and stir while you prep the fresh greens – wash the leaves, trimming away any tough stalks. Slice the leaves and stir into the pan with the frozen spinach and a good grating of nutmeg. Cook for 15 minutes, or until nice and dark, stirring regularly. Tip into a food processor, finely grate in the lemon zest, add a squeeze of juice, then blitz until finely chopped. Taste and season to perfection, then, once cool enough to handle, pop the greens into a big sandwich bag, snip off the corner and pipe into the cannelloni tubes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Return the pan to the heat (there’s no need to clean it) with 1 tablespoon of oil. Peel the remaining garlic, finely slice with the chilli and basil stalks, add to the pan and fry until lightly golden. Pour in the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Half-fill the tins with water, swirl around and pour into the pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season to perfection – you want the sauce quite wet, as the pasta will soak lots of it up. Pour into a baking dish (25cm x 30cm) and line up the filled cannelloni on top, pushing them into the sauce.
Finely grate the Parmesan into the food processor (there’s no need to clean it). Add the ricotta, egg, milk, the basil leaves and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, and blitz until smooth. Pour it over the cannelloni, making sure all the tubes are covered, then bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with hunks of seeded brown bread to up your carb intake, and a fresh side salad of your choice.