Recipe: Spinach and “Ricotta” Cannelloni

I’ve always loved this vegetarian dish, but I rarely make it. As I’m spending the month of March meat-free, I thought I’d resurrect this recipe, but have a go at making it syn-free, which I’ve done by replacing the ricotta with quark, meaning my Healthy Extra A allowance can be spent on cheese to melt on the top.

F = Free food – eat as much of this as you like
S = Speed food – eat as much of this as you like, filling at least 1/3rd of your plate with it
P = Protein food – eat as much as you like
HEa = Healthy Extra A – daily dairy allowance
HEb = Healthy Extra B – daily fibre allowance

12804702_10156469488555386_1831782423722122960_nSpinach and “Ricotta” Cannelloni
Serves 2
Syn-free + HEA


  • 500g passata (S)
  • 2 onions (S)
  • 4 cloves garlic (S)
  • 2 handfuls of lentils (P)
  • whatever speed veg you like (S)
  • 1 tub quark (P)
  • cannelloni tubes (F)
  • 1 bag spinach (S)
  • Glug of red wine vinegar (F)
  • Glug of balsamic vinegar (F)
  • large pinch cayenne (F)
  • a couple of large pinches dried mixed herbs (F)
  • large pinch artificial sweetener (F)
  • low-cal spray oil (F)
  • 2 x HEA allowance of hard cheese, grated (HEA)


  • Roughly chop one of the onions and crush two of the garlic cloves, and fry them in low-cal spray oil till just starting to turn golden.
  • Add the passata, lentils, and whatever speed veg you fancy (I added mushrooms, peppers, and chilli peppers, because that’s what I had to hand), with the sweetener, balsamic and red wine vinegar, cayenne and herbs.
  • Simmer till the lentils are tender and the sauce has reduced. You may have to add a little water as it cooks and the lentils absorb some of the liquid, so keep an eye on it.
  • Wash the spinach and wilt it, either by steaming or popping in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then chop it finely (I use scissors – it’s much easier than faffing around with a knife!).
  • Finely dice the second onion and mince the other two cloves of garlic.
  • Mix the spinach, onion and garlic with the quark, making sure it’s all well combined. Chuck in some extra dried mixed herbs if you fancy it.
  • Pipe the quark mixture into the cannelloni tubes, and line the bottom of a lasagne dish with them.
  • Pour the tomato and vegetable ragu over the top of the pasta tubes, making sure it’s all well covered.
  • Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top, and maybe a sprinkle of more herbs if you’re so inclined.
  • Pop in the oven at 200C for 30-40 minutes, until the cheese is golden and the pasta is tender.
  • Serve with a side salad.

I used Cathedral City Reduced Fat Cheddar, of which you can have 40g for your HEA allowance, so I used 80g total for two very generous servings. Check what the allowance is for whatever cheese you choose, because different types and bands of cheese will affect how much you can have as your HEA.

I would usually add a good glug of Worcestershire sauce to my tomato ragu, but as I’m not eating any meat or fish, and that contains anchovy, I omitted it on this occasion, but if you’re not fussy about that, put the Worcestershire sauce in too – it adds a nice depth of flavour to the dish.

I have absolutely no idea if this would be freezable, but it will keep in the fridge for a little while, and it’s so tasty I don’t mind re-heating the second portion to eat the next day.

If you’re doing SP, or just not eating pasta for whatever reason, you can still have this dish – simply cut long, thin “sheets” of either courgette or aubergine, and wrap them round the spinach and quark mixture to form tubes in place of the pasta.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!


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