This is a really easy, comforting and tasty vegetarian dish – I adore the combination of ricotta and spinach in just about anything particularly in filled pasta like tortellini or cannelloni. Plus you get a whopping portion of all that iron (so essential for all us women) and nutritional goodness in the spinach particularly when you use frozen spinach. The average bag of fresh spinach weighs approx. 180g and there is 400g of frozen spinach in this dish so you get the picture. This is good for you! Don’t be tempted to leave out the nutmeg, it really does add something special to the overall flavour of the dish. You could use the spinach & ricotta mixture also to make filled pancakes or wraps, toasted sandwiches or even a pasta bake. It’s a great way to get a really good portion of those green goodies into your daily diet. My daughter actually made this dish for her Junior Cert practical exam and it was a great success as very little can go wrong with it. (We were sick of eating it after a while though as it was practiced several times!) You can also make everything in advance then just assemble it before putting it into the oven.
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
400g (14oz) frozen (chopped) spinach (defrosted)
250g (9oz) ricotta cheese
4 cloves of garlic peeled & crushed
50g (2oz) parmesan finely grated + bit extra to finish
1 egg (beaten)
100ml (3½ fl.oz) olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 400g (14oz) tin of finely chopped tomatoes
Squeeze of honey or pinch of sugar
Salt & pepper
- Drain the thawed spinach of all excess liquid.
- In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, ricotta, grated nutmeg, half the crushed garlic, parmesan and beaten egg
- Season the mixture generously with salt and pepper and then chill in the fridge while you make the sauce
- Make the sauce by heating most of the olive oil in a frying pan
- Add the onion and the other half of the crushed garlic
- Slowly sweat the onion and garlic for a few minutes without colouring
- Add the tinned tomatoes and simmer gently until the sauce has thickened a bit (add water if it is too thick)
- Season the sauce to your taste and add a squeeze of honey or a pinch of sugar
- Turn the oven on to 180°C / 350° F / Gas 4
- Grease a gratin dish with the rest of the olive oil
- Shape the spinach and ricotta mixture into 12 balls (when I made this recently each ball weighed roughly 40g – a bit OCD, I know!!)
- Spoon the tomato sauce over them
- Bake in the oven for approx. 30 mins
- To serve: sprinkle with grated parmesan and serve with salad and bread to mop up anything left on the plate.
- Enjoy and Bon Appetit!