1 beetroot, 200ml passata, 1 leek, 1 small white onion, 1 carrot, 400g spinach, 150g feta, 50g cheddar, 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg, 12 cannelloni tubes, olive oil, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/2tsp basil, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 glass red wine.
Words fail me to describe just how luscious this dish was. Spinach, as you know, is my absolute favourite and I would genuinely eat it three times a day without ever getting remotely bored of it. Mmmm spinach. But even those without my passion for it, will love the combination of tangy feta and fresh juicy spinach, smothered in a rich tomato and beetroot sauce. For best results, prepare a day in advance. By allowing the pasta to rest overnight, the juices from the spinach will begin to soften it, meaning it can cook for less time in the oven and avoid that horrible "leathery" texture that can happen when the sauce isn't sufficient enough to "boil" it, as dried pasta really does require this.
1) Combine the fresh spinach, nutmeg and feta in a food processor until a thick puree has formed. Fill the cannelloni tubes using a teaspoon and a little patience and transfer to an ovenproof dish.
2) Use the grate option on your food processor to blitz the onion, leek, carrot and beetroot together, then transfer the soffrito/mirepoix to a pan with a glug of olive oil and allow to sizzle for 5 minutes until soft and juicy. I like to add a glass of red wine for extra flavour and cook it off at this stage, but this is entirely optional.
3) Add the herbs and passata, then simmer for a further 10 minutes and set aside to cool down to room temperature before pouring over the cannelloni. Allow to rest in the fridge overnight.
4) Top with the cheddar cheese, cover with foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes, then serve hot.