Monday 8 December 2014

Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Wow, it's been cold today. There is a biting chill in the air accompanied by even a little snow.

Oh yes, we had a few minutes of snow and hail here yesterday - the ground was actually white. Cue, excitement. But then it melted 15 minutes later when the sun came out :(
There's nothing better on a frosty December day than a baked pasta dish - pasta always seems to make everything better somehow.
Pasta cooked in a saucepan is good enough but covered with a smooth white sauce and bubbling cheese, it just goes to another level. Which is why, today, I'm sharing a recipe for Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni

Cannelloni is pasta shaped like a tube which you can stuff with any filling and bake with more sauce over the top, much like lasagne. You can try the filling that I used or play around with your own ideas. 
Either way, when this dish comes out of that oven, bubbling and brimming with molten cheese, you'll have the perfect dinner on your hands.

Baked Pasta, previously: A Light Baked PastaCreamy Veggie Pasta BakeMy Chicken LasagneMexican LasagneMediterranean Pasta Bake

A Simple List of Ingredients:

1. Frozen Spinach
2. Bechamel Sauce
3. Olive Oil
4. Garlic
5. Chicken Mince
6. Italian Dried Herbs
7. Salt and Pepper
8. Mature Cheddar
9. Cannelloni Pasta

Bismillah, let's begin! 

For the spinach, take 5 cubes Frozen Spinach. By using the frozen, you'll be saved time in chopping and washing. 
Place the cubes into a bowl and let them defrost.

Then, make a batch of Bechamel Sauce. You can use any recipe you like but my recipe is here.

Now, to cook the chicken. Heat up 1 tablespoon Olive Oil in a frying pan.

Add 2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed.

Fry the garlic over a medium heat for a minute or until fragrant.

Then, add 1 pound Chicken Mince.

Break up the chicken and start letting it brown.

While it's browning, add 1 teaspoon Italian Dried Herbs, Salt and Pepper, to taste.
If you don't have the Italian herbs, add a mixture of dried oregano, dried basil, dried rosemary and dried thyme. Or any other herb you like.

Mix in the herbs and once the chicken is completely brown and there is no pink colour left, cover it. Leave it to cook on the lowest heat for 20 minutes or until it's fully cooked.

Once cooked, pop into a mixing bowl.

Add the defrosted spinach. Be sure that you have squeezed out any excess moisture from the spinach.

Add in 1 cup Bechamel Sauce - about a few tablespoons.

Mix together.

Add 4 ounces (1/2 cup or 113 grams) Mature Cheddar, grated. I love the mature but any will do.
You could also try grated Mozzarella - that would be really nice too.

Give it a final stir - everything should stick together but not be too runny.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 200 degrees C.

Now, for the pasta. Take 1 box (250 grams) Cannelloni.

You can buy it here.

Like lasagne, these cannelloni shells didn't need pre-cooking but be sure to see what your box or packet says.

You could use two spoons to put the filling into each pasta tube but I found it easier using a disposable piping bag.

Put all the filling into a piping bag.

Cut a hole which is big enough for the filling to get through.

Take a large, oven dish and spread a little Bechamel Sauce over the bottom.

Pipe the filling into the cannelloni tubes, and place into the dish.

Cover with the rest of the Bechamel Sauce.

And, sprinkle over 4 ounces (1/2 cup or 113 grams) Mature Cheddar or any other cheese you like.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Enjoy piping hot with a crisp, fresh salad.

Full Written Recipe:

Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni

Adapted from Laura in the Kitchen

Prep Time: 50 minutes approx.
Cooking Time: 40 minutes approx.
Serves: 6 to 8 approx.

5 cubes Frozen Spinach, defrosted
1 batch Bechamel Sauce
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
1 pound Chicken Mince
1 teaspoon Italian Dried Herbs
Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
8 ounces (226 grams or 1 cup) Mature Cheddar, grated
1 box (250 grams) Cannelloni


Put the spinach cubes into a bowl to defrost.

Make a batch of Bechamel Sauce and set aside. My recipe is here.

To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a frying pan. Once it’s hot, add the garlic and fry for 1 minute or until fragrant.

Add in the chicken and break up with a spoon. Brown the chicken until no pink colour remains. As it’s browning, add in the Italian herbs, salt and pepper.
Once browned, cover and cook on the lowest heat for 20 minutes or until completely cooked.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and put into a mixing bowl. Stir in the spinach (make sure you've squeezed out any excess water from it), and 1 cup of Bechamel Sauce. Mix and let it cool slightly.
Stir in ½ cup of the grated Cheddar. Mix, and taste for seasoning.

Place the mixture into a disposable piping bag and cut a large hole at the end.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 or 200 degrees.

Take a large oven dish and spread a little Bechamel Sauce over the bottom.

Fill each cannelloni tube with the chicken mixture and place into the dish.

Cover with the rest of the Bechamel Sauce and sprinkle on the rest of the Cheddar.

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then, uncover and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Serve with a crisp salad.

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