Tag Archives: ricotta cheese

Spinach Cannelloni

6 Jun

My sister invited us to a full long weekend of merriment to celebrate my BIL 40th birthday… It was jam-packed with surprises and food.

I traveled with the excuse of spending time with my nephew, Ale. So he never ever suspected the conga-line of people that would appear each night to celebrate the weekend. First, we started the celebration last Thursday, the official birth date, with his mom and brother coming in by surprise. I had to buy groceries and make everything that same day because I couldn’t let the birthday boy know we were cooking for 12 that day…

I was planning to make a taquiza/taco bar menu for dear BIL, something he had enjoyed a lot once before. But when he insisted all he wanted was his favorite tiramisu for a birthday cake, the menu quickly shifted to Italian and the poblanos and corn were set aside for another day.

Make a crepe and fill it with Nutella or gruyere cheese and you immediately think Paris or French… But take the same crepe and fill it with ricotta and spinach and what do you get? Cannelloni…

I know… there are a lot of ingredients in the list, but it’s really an easy assembly recipe. This recipe is very easily halved for a smaller crowd.

SPINACH CANNELLONI

Makes about 24 cannelloni to serve 12 people

24 crepes
24oz of ricotta cheese
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
4 cups of Italian-Blend shredded Cheese
1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 bag of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry as much as possible
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 tbs of chopped fresh Italian parsley
2-3 tbs of chopped fresh basil leaves
3 tbs of olive oil, divided
2 packs of Pomi chopped tomatoes
2 cups of half and half
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
Garlic Salt, Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper to taste
  1. I make my own crepes using this batter recipe right here. I make the batter the night before and allow it to rest in the fridge overnight.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add a few drizzles of olive oil, onions and garlic. Season them liberally with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes to allow the onions to release their moisture, but do not brown them, just until they’re soft. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven to 425F.
  4. To make the filling… In a large bowl combine ricotta cheese, the cooked onions/garlic mixture, 2 cups of the Italian cheese blend, ½ cup parmesan cheese, the chopped fresh parsley and basil and the chopped thawed and squeezed spinach. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic salt and a few drizzles of olive oil. Mix well to combine. Set aside. If you want to make some cheese cannelloni without the spinach, just omit the spinach or set some cheese mixture aside before adding the spinach. The flavors will work really well.
  5. To make the sauce… mix together in another large bowl the chopped tomatoes, half and half and season with salt, pepper, dried oregano and basil, garlic salt and a few drizzles of olive oil. Mix together well to combine and create a pink sauce and set aside.
  6. Now we assemble… I had to use 2 large 9” x 13” glass oven-proof dishes for this amount of crepes. Pour 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of each baking dish. Take each crepe and smear about 1 large soup spoonful of cheese/spinach mixture and roll into a cannelloni. Place on top of the sauce. Repeat with all the crepes and place them side by side on the baking dishes.
  7. When you’re done assembling the crepes in the baking dish, spoon the sauce that’s left on top of the crepes. Sprinkle the rest of the Italian blend cheeses, the mozzarella and the parmesan cheese on top of the cannelloni to create a cheesy crust on top.
  8. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes to allow the tomato sauce to cook and for the cheese on top to melt and brown. If the cheese is not browned to your liking, you can always turn on the broiler on low and watch it for 10 minutes or so until it’s brown and beautiful.

You can certainly make this for a large crowd like I did, or make it into individual dishes and serve for a smaller group or even just one. I did some filled with just cheese and some with the spinach… the kids ate the ones with spinach even though I had mentioned I had ones with just cheese. They were skeptical at first, but they ate it all in the end.

And if you have any creamed spinach leftover from another side dish or from making a stack of crepes…  you can indeed use it and skip the step of cooking onions and garlic beforehand.

We served these cannelloni with a caprese salad and delicious garlicky bread

Breakfast Granola Parfait

30 Mar

I mentioned recently how I love the combination of fresh fruit, granola and yogurt for breakfast… so the other day I wanted to share it with my mom and friend. But I wanted to make it look pretty. That’s when I had the idea to layer it into a parfait. It would look far prettier than just mixing everything haphazardly in a bowl.

 

BREAKFAST GRANOLA PARFAIT

1 cup ricotta
1 cup vanilla yogurt
Squirt of honey
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 tbs brown sugar
2 cups granola
  1. In a bowl, mix the cut berries and mix in with the brown sugar to macerate. Allow the berries to release some of their own juice about 10 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, yogurt and honey. Mix together well.
  3. In parfait glasses, or just some old-fashioned glasses, layer all the components – First add some yogurt/ricotta, then some fruit and end with some granola. Repeat again, yogurt/ricotta, fruit and granola. End up it some additional fruit on top.

Serve immediately. Serves about 3 parfaits.

The flavors are spectacular and the presentation is really nice, especially if you are entertaining for breakfast or brunch when you have special company, don’t you think??

Eggplant Gratin

5 Aug

The other day I did a whole batch of fried eggplants and even though I loooove to have them with just a squirt of lemon on top, sometimes I want to change it up.

It had been a while since I had eggplant parmesan and by having these fried eggplants, making one would be half the time.  This recipe is actually a mixture of two recipes I had seen before – one from Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa and another one from Tyler Florence I had seen years ago.

This is the result of the combination…

 

EGGPLANT GRATIN – serves 2 people

About 6-8 slices of fried eggplant
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup of spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
½ cup of petite diced tomatoes
1tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1tsp Italian Seasonings
Kosher salt and Pepper to taste
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup Italian shredded cheese blend

 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix together the ricotta cheese and squeezed-dry spinach.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix together the petite tomatoes, vinegar, oil, Italian Seasonings, salt and pepper.  Mix well and set aside.
  4. In a shallow gratin dish, place a little of the tomato juice on the bottom.  Now place a layer of fried eggplant on the bottom.  Place a few tablespoons of the tomato mixture and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Now place the ricotta/spinach mixture in an even layer.  Place a few more tomatoes.  Cover with another layer of fried eggplants.  Place the rest of the tomatoes you have left.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and the Italian shredded cheeses.
  5. Place in oven for about 20-30 minutes for the tomatoes to cook a bit and the eggplant to reheat well.

 

This is a great combination between an eggplant lasagna and eggplant parmesan. .. It tastes great and it’s easy to do once the eggplants are already fried.  You can certainly assemble this any night of the week.  The breading on the eggplant will get soggy due to the tomato sauce… but the taste is so delicious you will not mind at all.

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