Spinach and ricotta ‘sausage’ rolls

After realising that I can be a bit of a frozen puff-pastry hoarder, I’ve been looking for ways to make sure we use up the packets before they are lost in the depths of our chest freezer. Sausage rolls, in the traditional sense, have been baked in abundance for this reason, and are definitely a ‘go to’ for parties and entertaining. As are my favourite savoury scrolls – which are always a great lunchbox addition.

So when I was looking for a vegetarian dish to contribute to our recent Good Friday lunch, and also a way to finish off the half pack of puff pastry I had in the freezer, these lovely little spinach and ricotta rolls came to be.

Filled with the goodness of spinach, and jazzed up with both ricotta and feta – this vegetarian take on the ol’ sausage roll proved rather delicious. And they will now feature on my ‘bring a plate’ favourites list for sure!

Print Recipe
Spinach and ricotta 'sausage' rolls
Course Baking
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Course Baking
Cuisine Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
rolls
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and line 2 trays with baking paper.
  2. Squeeze as much liquid out of the spinach as you can, then place in a large bowl with the ricotta, feta, egg and lemon zest. Stir to combine, and season.
  3. Cut each pastry sheet in half. Place 1/4 of the spinach mixture down the long side of each sheet. Brush the opposite side with egg, and roll to enclose.
  4. Cut each roll into 6 pieces, and place onto the lined baking trays. Brush the tops with a little more egg, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
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Lemon, pea and ricotta pasta

IMG_0377 Some meals, are sufficiently perfect in their simplicity. Nothing fancy, just good ingredients that work together just beautifully. Like this lemon, pea and ricotta pasta. IMG_0372 No complex sauce, no slow cooking required. IMG_0374 Just a pile of al dente spaghetti, tossed with peas, mint, lemon and a good amount of ricotta. IMG_0375 A beautiful Spring dish indeed. What about you? Tried any tasty pasta combinations lately?

Lasagne loving

If there is one meal that I am drawn too when wanting (a) something I can put together in advance and (b) yields enough for multiple meals, it is always lasagne. IMG_3918 A great way to use up whatever veggies and ingredients you have on hand when pulling together the meat sauce.. IMG_3909 (in this case it was pancetta, celery, carrots and onion). And an easy dish to have bubbling away on the stove with relatively little attention. IMG_3916 And, as for the layering, with the help of a ricotta sauce (in place of béchamel) and some fresh lasagne sheets – well it really is very simple. IMG_3915IMG_3917 (ricotta, an egg, frozen spinach (thawed) and a handful of grated parmesan). Once the layering is done (think sauce, lasagne sheets, ricotta, repeat), and the whole dish is given a generous sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan, just cover and set it aside until it is time to bake! IMG_3921 30-40 minutes later – and dinner is served! IMG_3925 So much cheesy, meaty goodness – oh and the healthy addition of spinach right?! IMG_3928 Served with a side salad – and you have yourself lunch / dinner for the next day (plus some portions to place in the freezer). IMG_3929 Yup I do really love lasagne. What about you? Are you a fan of lasagne?

15 minute meal – ricotta fritters

Another meal, and it was back to Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute meals for inspiration. IMG_7031 On this occasion, we tried his ricotta fritters (served in a tomato olive sauce), with a zucchini salad on the side. IMG_7030 And what a tasty little dish this turned out to be. IMG_7021 The sauce on the fritters was just delightful, although you can’t really go wrong with the combination of tomato, olives and basil. IMG_7022 However, truthfully, the fritters were a little fragile and hard to flip, so perhaps I would look for an alternative recipe next time. IMG_7024 Flipping issues aside, they made me feel like I was having breakfast for dinner – and there is certainly nothing wrong with that!! What about you? Do you like fritters?

Filo rolls take 1

IMG_9224 With the re-introduction of wheat into my diet, I now have the opportunity to cook with ingredients I have never previously worked with. One such ingredient is filo pastry, that I have seen all too often on cooking shows, but never actually used myself. Well until last week, that is. I picked up a packet of filo pastry from the supermarket, and just stared at it for a little while trying to figure out what on earth I would do with it. A look in the fridge revealed a big butternut pumpkin that needed to be used, and a dinner idea grew from there. I peeled and diced the pumpkin, then roasted it in the oven with olive oil, garlic and cinnamon for an hour or so. IMG_9214 Processed until smooth – then combined with a good amount of ricotta. IMG_9215 And thus our pumpkin, cinnamon ricotta filling was born! As for the filo itself, I must have been rather dubious that this recipe would work, as I didn’t take any action shots. Basically, I layered  a couple sheets of filo, sprayed them with olive oil spray, then folded them in half. I spooned a good amount of the pumpkin mixture and baby spinach on the short end of the pastry, then rolled it up (turning in the sides) to form a sausage roll shaped pastry. IMG_9219 Like so… IMG_9217 Placed on a lined baking tray, finished with another light spray of olive oil, then topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Into the oven at 180C for 15 minutes…. IMG_9220 And look at the magical filo rolls that greeted me when I opened the oven door! IMG_9221 Perfectly golden, perfectly crispy… IMG_9222 But the real treat was inside… IMG_9226 Creamy, flavoursome pumpkin and spinach Smile  This, my friends, is going to certainly be a “take 1”. Of many. My mind is already starting to whirl with other filling combinations! What about you? Ever cook with filo?

Ricotta cheesecake

IMG_7659 Cheesecake has always been one of my favourite desserts. Or lunch – if I am feeling so inclined. And after enjoying a particularly delightful piece at a local cafe a few weeks ago, I was determined to try and make my own at home. A crust-less version that was, by its very nature, gluten free. It started out so well. IMG_7554 Ricotta, cream cheese, eggs, sugar, vanilla and lemon rind. Cooked until firm to the touch, and then sprinkled with icing sugar. IMG_7580 Only a small crack, but beautifully set. IMG_7573 The only problem being that while the flavours were spot on… IMG_7577 The texture was not quite right. IMG_7659 It lacked the lightness / fluffiness of the version my local cafe makes. IMG_7661 Perhaps it was overbeaten? Under-beaten? Over-cooked? Undercooked? I’m really not sure. Oh well, a delicious work in progress nonetheless. And I am sure my tastebuds will have fun trying to perfect the recipe. What about you? Any tips for making a light and fluffy ricotta cheesecake?

Long Italian lunch – Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

Remember when I mentioned that we indulged in a long Italian lunch last Saturday while watching Australia take on Italy in the Rugby World Cup? IMG_2656    Oh and remember when I promised you some recipes??? I sure do! And I haven’t forgotten. So let me begin shall I? Being a lunch ‘party’, I wanted to keep the dishes fairly light, something that Italian food is often not renowned for. So, I decided to steer clear of the usual lasagne or pasta route, and try something new. Cannelloni to be exact. And seeing as I really love ricotta, but ‘the books’ say that I should avoid it during pregnancy unless it is cooked / heated…. IMG_2601 I decided that spinach and ricotta cannelloni would be a fun lunch option. Coming together in 4 fairly straightforward parts. Part 1 – the noodles I am in no way qualified/inclined/talented enough to make my own pasta sheets, so I picked up this box of gluten free cannelloni tubes last week. IMG_2618IMG_2619 I have, however, had mixed success when it comes to dried GF pasta (particular when baking it – ugh crunchy lasagne anyone?!), so I decided to also have a safe option for my non-allergy family members and purchased some fresh lasagne sheets from the markets also… IMG_2612 (ps. I thought that purchasing the fresh sheets at the market would be cheaper than at the supermarket. They weren’t. Woolworths stock something similar for almost half the price. Food budget fail?! Although small business win perhaps?) Part 2 – the filling IMG_2600 With the noodles sorted, it was time to think about the filling. I found 3 big bunches of spinach on sale at the market, and after removing the leaves, washing them, blanching them in boiling water and then squeezing out as much water as I could, the spinach was ready to go! IMG_2606 Combined with ricotta, parmesan, pan fried mushrooms, basil and oregano, seasoned to taste… IMG_2609 And our cannelloni filling was complete! Part 3 – the sauce IMG_2582        I had originally planned to use jarred passata, but decided to jazz up some peeled tinned tomatoes instead. IMG_2585 So into a pot went the tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, roasted capsicum and sundried tomatoes, IMG_2587 Simmered for half an hour, then pureed until smooth. IMG_2593 The result? IMG_2595 A rich, vibrant and flavoursome tomato sauce, which makes me wonder why I have never done this before! IMG_2594 Sauce complete! Stage 4 – the construction With the noodles, filling and sauce all ready to go, it was time to put this lunch together. Starting with a layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of two baking dishes (one for the GF pasta, and one for the ‘regular’ pasta). IMG_2611 I  stuffed the gluten free shells with the ricotta mixture first, to avoid any chances of contamination by their wheat-filled counterparts. This was rather messy work, but after a little effort, I had myself a baking dish filled with the GF cannelloni. IMG_2620 Laid side by side, and finished with another layer of the tomato sauce, and a sprinkle of grated mozzarella. IMG_2624 Covered with foil and into the oven for 45 minutes, with an extra 5 minutes uncovered to allow the top to brown slightly. Then,  it was on to the ‘regular’ cannelloni. As I was using fresh lasagne sheets, and not dried sheets or tubes, I spooned about 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture along one of the short edges of the sheet, IMG_2614 Then rolled the sheet up around the filling to form a tube. IMG_2615 Placed seam side down in the other baking dish… IMG_2617 and repeated until we were out of both the lasagne sheets and the ricotta mixture. IMG_2616 Again, finished with the remainder of the tomato sauce, IMG_2622 And a sprinkle of mozzarella. IMG_2623 As this version used fresh lasagne sheets, and not dried pasta, I baked the dish for 30 minutes only, removing the foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking also. And the result? One big baking dish of ooozey cannelloni, that would keep even the biggest cheese lover happy! IMG_2660 And, while I can’t personally attest for the taste of the wheat version, I am calling it a success given that everyone went back for seconds 😉 IMG_2661 And, as for the gluten free version, I was pleasantly surprised that the noodles had softened, yet retained their shape, making them a decent GF pasta substitute. IMG_2662 So what are my post cannelloni thoughts?? While there was certainly a bit of effort involved in making the dish, it could put together in advance, making it a perfect ‘heat and eat’ option once my guests had arrived. And, when combined with a couple salads or side dishes, we had ourselves a relatively simple yet tasty meal for all appetites. Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni (makes 14+)

  • 14 fresh rectangle lasagne sheets (or equivalent GF cannelloni tubes)
  • 2 cups homemade tomato sauce (*see recipe below)
  • 800g ricotta
  • 2-3 bunches spinach, leaves removed, blanched and shredded
  • 6 button mushrooms, diced and sautéed for a couple minutes
  • 60g grated parmesan
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbs fresh basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated mozzarella (or more / less depending on what you prefer)
  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Pour 1 cup of the tomato sauce into a large baking dish and spread to cover.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, mushrooms, parmesan, oregano and basil until well combined. Season to taste.
  4. Working with one lasagne sheet at a time, spoon approximately 1/3 of the ricotta mixture along the short edge of the sheet, and roll to enclose. Place the roll, seam side down in the prepared baking dish. If you are using GF cannelloni shells, as best you can, spoon or pipe the ricotta mixture into the tubes.
  5. Repeat with the remaining lasagne sheets, until you have a full tray of cannelloni.
  6. Spread the remaining tomato sauce over the top of the cannelloni, and sprinkle with grated mozzarella.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes if using fresh lasagne sheets, or 45-50 minutes if using dried shells.
  8. Remove foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking, to allow the cheese to become golden brown and bubbly.

Homemade tomato sauce (makes 3 cups)

  • 800g peeled tomatoes (tinned is ok)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 5 sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • 1small roasted capsicum, sliced
  1. Heat a splash of olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, and use a stick blender to puree until smooth.

But cannelloni aside, stay tuned for part 2 of our long Italian lunch……there are salads and brownies involved!! What about you? Ever made your own cannelloni? What is your favourite cannelloni filling?