I. Love. Summer.
Those warm, dry breezes that waft through the house, airing-out the chill of winter. The feel of sunshine on my pale, hidden skin. Being able to dry the washing within a couple of hours while I sip a crisp white wine and eat juicy, sweet watermelon. Watching the kids play in the pool for hours while I sit under a tree, wearing a cotton-thin t-shirt over my cozzies and idly enjoy chilled green grapes.
And the food??!!! Oh! Anything cool, simple and fresh. Salads are the main event for dinners, rather than being relinquished to a side dish. Fresh fruit is preferred over oven-baked goodies and drinks are iced, long and plentiful.
I. Love. Summer!
Unfortunately, that was not this summer.
This summer, instead of enjoying an iced coffee at breakfast, my hot skim flat-white is what I wake up to, I still have my doona on my bed, the air conditioner is enjoying a nice, long holiday and I am still wearing my jeans throughout the day (although, they are a little snugger since starting this blog).
Aaaand, I'm still cooking hot, comforting meals.
Like this dish.
Long, slow, hot oven-baked spinach, ricotta and sweet potato cannelloni. Toped and based with a thick, sweet pasatta and dotted with fresh, aromatic basil, this dish is the stuff dinner dreams are made of.
Maybe this isn't a summer dish, but it sure warms the cockles of this summer-lovin' heart of mine.
Cannelloni tubes (I used 2 packets of the San Remo tubes)
1 large bunch of spinach (or, silverbeet), chopped finely
1 large sweet potato (you can use the equivalent of butternut pumpkin, but my kids prefer the sweet potato. I know!), chopped
750g fresh ricotta
10 leaves of fresh basil, torn
1 litre pasatta (or similar tomato-based sauce)
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
extra basil leaves to place on top for serving
Use your preferred method to cook the sweet potato and spinach. Drain properly - especially the spinach.
Cool to room temperature and mix together, along with ricotta, basil, nutmeg, eggs and season to taste.
Pour the pasatta into a medium saucepan. Add water and salt and heat until just boiling.
In a large oven-proof dish, pour in a third of the hot pasatta.
Fill the cannelloni tubes with the spinach, ricotta and sweet potato mixture and place on the pasatta in an even pattern. Don't feel that you need to squash the cannelloni together too tightly; they will swell a little as they cook and they will need the room to expand. When the dish is full, pour in another third of the pasatta and continue filling the cannelloni tubes. When all the tubes have been arranged, pour in the remainder of the pasatta.
Bake in a hot oven for approx 40 mins (or until a skewer can be inserted without any resistance).
Tear extra basil to serve.
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 40 mins
Cost: Approx $25
Would I cook it again?: Yes. My kids love it.
What would I do differently next time?: Serve it with a salad. Maybe a lemony lettuce salad.