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Lunch / Dinner

Three-Cheese & Spinach Cannelloni

Once Thanksgiving dinner is behind you, but you still have a houseful of guests, that’s when you look to recipes that can be prepared in advance, then popped in the oven right before dinner. This is the beauty of baked pastas. They require a little effort up front, but the result is nothing short of relief for the cook.

Cannelloni is always a favorite dish. Creamy, cheesy, and downright delicious, this version takes advantage of an Italian sauce akin to béchamel called balsamella [bal-sah-MEHL-ah]. To offset its richness, add a layer of tomato sauce to the cannelloni, too. The acid from the tomatoes balances the creamy sauce just right.


8 servings

Total Time

1 hour

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Test Kitchen Tip

To make this pasta ahead, simply cover the dish with plastic wrap, refrigerate it for up to 2 days, then bake as directed, at least 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 400°.

Parboil lasagna sheets in a pot of boiling salted water, 4 sheets at a time, 23 minutes per batch; stack in a single layer between sheets of foil coated with nonstick spray.

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

To assemble cannelloni, coat the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish with Balsamella. Fill each lasagna sheet with 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.


To make them easier to handle, parboil lasagna sheets, then layer them on a foil-lined baking sheet.


To allow for the filling to expand during baking, use only a scant 1/4-cup measurement.

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