Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni

Chicken CannelloniOften it can be difficult deciding what to make for dinner. There are times when I struggle to come up with anything for my family to eat all week and others when a menu just seems to fall into place. I try look to things I would order in restaurants or specific ingredients I enjoy for inspiration.

I was inspired to make this cannelloni when I was looking for a way to use some butternut squash, which is strange because there’s no squash in this recipe. I had heard of using wonton wrappers to make homemade ravioli and butternut squash as a filling. I found a recipe online but when I went to the grocery store all they had were egg roll wrappers. I ended up making some darn good ravioli, but more to the point the package of egg roll wrappers had a recipe for beef cannelloni. My family doesn’t eat much beef anymore since my two year old won’t touch it. I decided to create a chicken and spinach filling and use my own tomato sauce recipe rather than a store bought can. This cannelloni came together over nap time and it was well worth the minimal effort.

A simple sauce comes together with olive oil, garlic, herbs, and tomatoes.

Tomato SauceCooked chicken breast gets shredded.

Shredded ChickenOnions and garlic get soft and sweet. It smells amazing in here right now.

OnionsThe filling gets mixed together.

Time to get rolling!

Chicken Cannelloni RollPlace the rolled cannelloni seam side down in the baking dish on top of half the sauce.

Rolls in the panTop with the remaining sauce, cover and cook. Melt some cheese on top in the last few minutes and you’re ready for dinner! They do have a slightly different texture than an actual pasta would, but chances are you won’t care. I hope you’ll try it, or at least be inspired to try make something similar!

Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cannelloni:
15 egg roll wrappers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed of excess moisture
2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add three garlic cloves and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute. Add the red pepper and cook about 15 seconds more. Add the oregano, thyme, tomatoes, and parsley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add the spinach, breaking it up as you add it to the bowl. Add the chicken, ricotta, and Parmesan and stir to combine.

Pour half the sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place about 1/3 cup filling at one end of an egg roll wrapper and roll into a log. Place seam side down on top of the sauce in the dish. Continue with remaining wraps. I overfilled a few and ended up with 13 cannelloni, not a big deal. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, making sure to moisten the cannelloni completely.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the mozzarella, and return to the oven until melted, about 5-7 minutes.

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