Spinach and ricotta cannelloni is an easy dish that can be prepared a few hours ahead of time, then just put in the oven at the last minute – perfect for casual entertaining. I use Barilla cannelloni tubes that don’t need to be cooked before filling, the moisture from the sauce softens them as they bake, just be sure it says ‘no pre-cook’ (or similar) on the pack. I’ve also used this filling with large shell-shaped pasta (conchiglioni) for an unusual dinner party starter, though they do need to be boiled before filling. If ricotta is very fresh it contains a lot of liquid, so leave it in a strainer for an hour or so to drain, I use the one from Vannella Cheese in Marrickville, Sydney. Disposable piping bags, available from kitchenware shops, make filling the tubes easy. I like a soft red with spinach and ricotta cannelloni, such as the pinot noir from Lark Hill, a biodynamic winery in the Canberra District of NSW, though a gamay or Beaujolais is great too. See the video below for another cheesey, tomatoey Italian classic.
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