Easy Three Cheese And Spinach Cannelloni

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After a big Holiday feast, when you’re still hosting a full house of guests, you might be looking for a meal that’s both comforting and stress-free. Baked pasta dishes like Italian Cannelloni are your answer. While they may demand a bit of upfront effort, the reward is well worth it, especially when you can prepare them in advance and pop them in the oven right before dinner.

A white casserole baking dish holding the Three-cheese Cannelloni with Spinach recipe topped with marinara sauce.
This is a gourmet-quality meal without the hassle of stuffing the cheese-spinach filling into cannelloni tubes.
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🗝️ Recipe’s key points

  • Baked pasta dishes like Italian Cannelloni are perfect for serving a crowd while minimizing last-minute prep.
  • Cannelloni is known for its creamy, cheesy, and delicious qualities, making it a crowd-pleaser.
  • This particular Cannelloni recipe features a rich Italian sauce called besciamella [beh-shah-MEHL-ah], akin to béchamel, balanced with a layer of tomato sauce for delightful flavor harmony.

This Three Cheese and Spinach Cannelloni is the ideal Italian meal. It strikes the perfect balance between rich, creamy besciamella and tangy tomato sauce, ensuring a delightful and stress-free dinner. Once you learn how to make cannelloni, you’ll want to make it again and again.

🛒 Ingredients

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the recipe card (printable) at the bottom of the page.

Image of the ingredients needed to make the cheese and spinach cannelloni. Image of the ingredients needed to make the cheese and spinach cannelloni.

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  • Lasagna Noodles
  • Whole Milk Ricotta
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Part-Skim Mozzarella
  • Frozen Chopped Spinach- Fresh spinach can be substituted but should be blanched and chopped.
  • Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes- These are optional, but recommended!
  • Besciamella (White Sauce)- You can make this using the recipe below with unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, whole milk, and freshly grated nutmeg. You can also buy a bechamel sauce at your local grocery store if you prefer.
  • Roasted Tomato Sauce- The recipe below calls for Roma tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes, but you can also substitute a good jarred marinara sauce such as RAO’s.

🗒 Instructions

This is an overview of the instructions. Full instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Collage of the first four steps to making the quick  and easy Three Cheese Cannelloni recipe. Collage of the first four steps to making the quick  and easy Three Cheese Cannelloni recipe.
  1. Fill a large square deep casserole with the hottest tap water. Place the dry lasagna noodles in the water and let them soak for 20 minutes before draining. When the noodles are done, stack them in a single layer between sheets of foil coated with non-stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the whole milk ricotta, 1 cup of Pecorino Romano, mozzarella, spinach, parsley, olive oil, grated garlic, and freshly grated nutmeg for the filling.
  3. Season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Preheat your oven to 375℉.
  4. To assemble the cannelloni, coat the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish with the béchamel sauce or besciamella.
The second collage with steps five to eight for making the Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni recipe. The second collage with steps five to eight for making the Spinach and Cheese Cannelloni recipe.
  1. Fill each lasagna sheet with a scant ¼ cup of the filling and gently roll them up.
  2. Arrange the cannelloni, seam sides down, in the baking dish. Spread 3 cups of tomato sauce (roasted tomato sauce or a good jarred marinara) over the top of the cannelloni.
  3. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of Pecorino Romano over the sauce.
  4. Bake the cannelloni for 30 minutes until they are golden and bubbling. Serve the cannelloni with the remaining sauce on the side.

🥫 Storage

Making It Ahead: Assemble the cannelloni pasta without baking, cover it, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. To serve, bake as directed, adding 30 extra minutes for thorough heating.

Refrigerating Leftovers: For leftover cannoli pasta, refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven.

Freezing for Later: For long-term storage, let the dish cool, portion it, wrap, and freeze for 2-3 months. Thaw in the fridge and reheat when ready.

📚 Variations

  • Add extra veggies like diced zucchini, mushrooms, or bell peppers to the cheese filling for a healthier twist.
  • If you’re a fan of meat, include cooked ground beef, sausage, or turkey in the cheese filling.
A baking dish with the finished Cannelloni pasta recipe made with three cheeses and spinach. A baking dish with the finished Cannelloni pasta recipe made with three cheeses and spinach.
Whether you’re an experienced chef or a rookie in the kitchen, this recipe lets you whip up this masterpiece with ease.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tips

  • To prevent lasagna noodles from sticking during the pre-soaking step, place them in the water individually and swirl occasionally.
  • When assembling Italian cannelloni, use a scant ¼ cup of filling for each lasagna sheet and gently roll them to prevent overfilling.
  • Allow the assembled cannelloni recipe to cool before refrigerating or freezing to avoid condensation, which can affect the texture.
  • Always spray your baking/casserole dishes with vegetable cooking spray to prevent sticking.

🤔 FAQs

Is cannelloni the same as manicotti?

Cannelloni and manicotti are similar dishes, both consisting of stuffed pasta tubes. The main difference is the type of pasta used, with cannelloni traditionally using smooth tubes and manicotti using ridged tubes.

What other dishes can I use besciamella sauce in?

Besciamella sauce is a versatile component used in dishes like lasagna, cannelloni, gratins, and various creamy soups. It provides a rich, velvety texture to these recipes.

Can I use no-boil lasagna noodles for this recipe?

Yes, you can use no-boil lasagna noodles. However, it may affect the texture slightly, so be sure to follow the package instructions and adapt the soaking process as needed.

Can I make cannelloni with meat filling?

Yes, cannelloni can be filled with various ingredients, including meat, cheese, or vegetables. A popular meat filling is a mixture of ground beef and pork.

How do I prevent lumps in besciamella sauce?

To prevent lumps in your besciamella sauce, whisk continuously while adding the milk gradually, ensuring a smooth and creamy consistency.

A closeup of a serving spoon holding a cannelloni roll stuffed with cheese and spinach with a marinara sauce topping. A closeup of a serving spoon holding a cannelloni roll stuffed with cheese and spinach with a marinara sauce topping.
Tender lasagna noodles wrap around a creamy, dreamy mixture of three melted cheeses and vibrant spinach.

🍽 What to serve with Three Cheese and Spinach Cannelloni

This dish would be beautiful served alongside a salad, such as our Arugula Salad or our Grilled Vegetables with Italian Marinade.

🔪 All Our Way recommends the following

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You’ll need the following items to make this recipe successfully.

📞 Chiacchierata (chat)

Enjoy the rich flavors of homemade Cannelloni, a delightful Italian classic that’s perfect for sharing with family and friends. Whether you choose to make your own sauce or use a quality jarred option, these delectable pasta rolls are sure to impress.

Tutti a tavolo, è pronto!

A dinner plate with a serving of stuffed cheese-spinach filling. A dinner plate with a serving of stuffed cheese-spinach filling.
Making a cannelloni pasta tube out of rolled-up lasagna noodles is easy to make and stuffed with the delicious cheese-spinach filling.

If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

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📖 Recipe

Three cheese cannelloni with spinach covered with a garlic marinara sauce and topped with chopped fresh basil.Three cheese cannelloni with spinach covered with a garlic marinara sauce and topped with chopped fresh basil.

Three Cheese and Spinach Cannelloni Made With Easy Lasagna Noodles

This cannelloni pasta dish combines the richness of three kinds of cheese with the freshness of spinach, all conveniently packed into tender sheets of lasagna noodles. It’s a culinary masterpiece that will impress even the toughest food critics.

Print Pin Rate

Course: Main Course Pasta

Cuisine: American-Italian

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Resting Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Servings: 8 servings

Calories: 672kcal

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Ingredients

  • 16 oz. Lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta
  • 2 cups grated Pecorino Romano divided
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
  • 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach 10 oz., thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley stems discarded, leaves chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh garlic grated
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg freshly grated
  • kosher Salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes q.b. quanto basta (to taste)
  • 1 recipe Besciamella.
  • 1 recipe Roasted Tomato Sauce

Besciamella – White Sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Roasted Tomato Sauce – prepare this ahead of time. You may also substitute a good jarred marinara sauce or garlic sauce such as Raos’s

  • lbs. Roma tomatoes seedes and chopped
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves smashed
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and red pepper flakes q.b. quanto basto (as you like)

Instructions

Make the Besciamella sauce : Makes 2 ½ cups

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute.

  • Whisk in milk and nutmeg, bring sauce to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook until thick, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes.

  • Season besciamella with salt.

If using Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce: Makes 4 cups

  • Preheat oven to 450℉.

  • Toss tomatoes, onion, and garlic with oil; season with kosher salt and red pepper flakes.

  • Transfer mixture to a baking dish; roast until tomatoes blister, 35-40 minutes.

  • Purée mixtue in a food processor or with a handheld blender.

Presoak Regular Lasagna Noodles – no boiling needed

  • Fill a large square deep casserole with the hottest tap water. Put the dry lasagna noodles in, and let the noodles soak for 20 minutes before draining.

  • To prevent sticking, place the noodles in the water one at a time and swirl occasionally.

  • When the noodles are done, stack in a single layer between sheets of foil coated with non stick spray. Finish

Cannelloni Cheese Filling:

  • Combine ricotta, 1 cup Pecorino, mozzarella, spinach, parsley, oil, garlic, and nutmeg for the filling; season with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

To Assemble the Cannelloni:

  • To assemble cannelloni, spray the bottom and sides of a 3-quart baking dish with vegetable spray, then coat the bottom of the dish with Besciamella.

  • Fill each lasagna sheet with a scant ¼ cup filling and gently roll.

  • Arrange cannelloni, seam sides down, in dish; spread 3 cups tomato sauce over the top, then sprinkle with remaining 1 cup Pecorino.

  • Bake cannelloni 30 minutes; serve with remaining sauce on the side.

Notes

    • To prevent lasagna noodles from sticking during the pre-soaking step, place them in the water individually and swirl occasionally.
    • When assembling Italian cannelloni, use a scant ¼ cup of filling for each lasagna sheet and gently roll them to prevent overfilling.
    • Allow the assembled cannelloni recipe to cool before refrigerating or freezing to avoid condensation, which can affect the texture.
    • Always spray your baking/casserole dishes with vegetable cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  • NOTE: The nutritional values here are approximations. If you use your recipes, they will alter a bit. 

Nutrition

Calories: 672kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 479mg | Potassium: 699mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1940IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 625mg | Iron: 2mg

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