Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spinach & Quark Cannelloni

Back when I was a teenager I was a vegetarian for 4 years. It started out as 'ethical' reasons, not wanting to eat lamb after seeing it in the fields earlier on that week, but I think the main reason it stuck so long is because I am stubborn. I didn't want to give up. I wasn't a good vegetarian, my diet largely consisted of pasta with tomato sauce and lots of convenience foods.

One of my favourite meals to get was Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (to be honest anything with pasta and lots of cheese was pretty good in my book) but I haven't had it in a long time. A couple of weeks ago I was trying to think of the vegetarian recipe for the week and I suddenly remembered this beauty. As soon as I thought of it I knew I had to do a lightened version of it.

This was a bit of an undertaking for throwing together after work, especially as I had a bit of a disaster filling them (I tried a piping bag but my nozzle was not big enough and the spinach got blocked) so we did end up eating quite late that evening. It would be easy prepare the tomato sauce and filling ahead of time and then it would be pretty quick. Otherwise it may be a recipe to keep for a day when you have a little more meal prep time.

Serves: 3
Smartpoints per serving: 9 sp
Smartpoints on No Count: 7sp
1 tub of quark
1 egg yolk
250g baby spinach
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
12 cannelloni tubes
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp sweetener
Spray Oil
1 ball low fat mozzarella
Salt & Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C

Finely chop the red onion and soften over a medium heat in some spray oil. Crush the garlic and add to the pan with the balsamic vinegar. Cook for a 3-4 minutes until everything is soft and the balsamic vinegar has reduced away. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sweetener, basil and season to taste.

Add 200g of the spinach, quark, egg yolk & nutmeg to a food processor and pulse until the spinach is finely chopped and everything is combined. To add a little more texture, roughly chop the remaining 50g of spinach and stir through.  Season well. (If you don't have a food processor you can chop the spinach and mix everything by hand, just ensure that you chop the bulk of the spinach quite finely).

Put 1/4 of the tomato sauce in the bottom of an oven dish. Fill the cannelloni with the spinach & quark mixture and arrange in the dish. You want one layer of cannelloni tubes fitting quite snugly side by side. Top with the rest of the tomato sauce, ensuring they are full covered.

Slice the mozzarella ball and layer on top. Cook  in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is golden. Serve with a mixed green salad.

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