Beef and Spinach Cannelloni

Makes 6 generous individual portions or one big dish.

Beef & Spinach Cannelloni

You will need

  • 1 packet cannelloni shells (We used 3 cannelloni tubes per dish)
  • 125 g (or more) cheddar cheese, grated mozzarella cheese
  • 125 g (or more) mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

The filling

  • 500 g Good quality mince
  • 2 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ tsp Dried oregano
  • ½ tsp Dried basil
  • 1 Bayleaf
  • 1 Bunch spinach, blanched and chopped (or use 250 g frozen spinach)
  • 1 tin Chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Beef stock
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt, sugar and pepper

Heat a saucepan, add the oil and gently sauté onion and garlic until transparent.
Add mince and brown, stirring with a fork so that the mince is not lumpy.
Add herbs, beef stock, the tin of tomatoes and about a cup of water.
Let the meat simmer until the mixture is thick – then add your spinach and cook through.
Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
Cool down, and stuff the cannelloni tubes with the meat filling – this takes time and a small spoon!
NB! Do not stuff the tubes with hot meat filling – they will crack open.

Tomato Sauce Base

  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • 1 Clove garlic, chopped
  • 400 g Tin tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Yomato paste
  • Pinch of dried basil and dried oregano
  • Salt, pepper and sugar (to taste)

Heat the oil in a pan.
Cook onion and garlic until the onion is tender.
Add tin of tomatoes and rinse the tin with water – into the pot.
Add tomato paste, herbs, salt, pepper and sugar and simmer until the mixture thickens.
Taste and add more salt, pepper or sugar.
Allow to cool.

Cheese Sauce

  • 60 g Butter
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 2 cups Milk
  • Salt, pepper and pinch of nutmeg
  • 125 g grated mozzarella and cheddar cheese
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Melt butter in a saucepan, add flour, salt pepper and nutmeg.
Whisk until smooth, and stir over heat for 1 minute, then gradually add milk until sauce boils and thickens – for about 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses until melted.
If the sauce is too thick you can add more milk or water.
Make sure you have enough sauce – it has to cover the cannelloni shells or they will become hard when baking.

To assemble
You can use individual ovenproof dishes or one big one.
Layer the bottom of the dish with the tomato mixture, retaining a little bit for on top.
Place the stuffed cannelloni shells on top of the tomato mixture.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cannelloni shells – make sure they are well covered.
Sprinkle liberally with grated cheeses – dot it with tomato sauce and bake uncovered at 180°C for about 30 minutes.

Serve as it comes out of the oven and is nice and hot and the cheese is bubbling (with a green side salad if you’d like.)

TIP: The individual cannellonis freeze brilliantly and make a great stand-by dinner (or a when-mom-is-out-of-town dinner).
Just let them thaw and re-heat in the microwave.

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