My Mum’s Beef and Spinach Cannelloni

This is my favourite pasta dish of all time! It is comfort food at its best. When I was a little girl I would always ask my mum to make this for my birthday dinner. It does take quite a while to make but is worth the time and effort…It’s also one of the reasons I always make loads – this recipe is enough for 10-12 portions, so there’s enough to freeze and just reheat for a tasty dinner with little effort involved. But obviously you can halve or quarter the quantities if wanting to make less…

I sometimes serve this with pizza garlic bread for an extra carb overload! bread/

Ingredients: makes 10-12 portions

  • 1 kg lean minced beef
  • 900 g frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 large onions finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 heaped tablespoons creme fraiche
  • A jar of good quality tomato passata
  • Approximately 36 dried cannelloni tubes (these can be hard to come by, an alternative is to buy fresh pasta sheets and roll them up into tubes)
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Grated parmesan

For the quick all-in-one method cheesy bechamel sauce:

  • 600 ml milk
  • 200 ml double cream
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 80 g butter
  • 50 g plain flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Approximately 30 – 40 g grated cheese to taste (I used cheddar but emmental works well too)

Method for the beef and spinach filling:

1. Defrost / cook spinach as per instructions – I just microwave it for a few minutes in a large bowl so it is well thawed out. Drain and squeeze out the excess water. Allow to cool.

2. In a large frying pan brown off the minced beef over a high heat. Do this in batches so the meat does not overcrowd the pan and stew. You want caramelisation, not steamed meat! 500 g of beef mince in a 30 cm diameter pan seems to work well. Add in the crushed garlic to cook off for the last minute or 2 of cooking. Pour off any excess fat and set aside in a large dish with the cooked spinach.

3. Gently fry off the onions in a little olive oil over a low to medium heat until soft but not coloured. This should take about 15 minutes. Once soft set aside to cool and add it to the spinach / beef mix.

4. Finally add the creme fraiche, a teaspoon of salt, some fresh ground pepper and egg yolks to the filling and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to stuff the tubes.

5. Parboil the cannelloni tubes for 2 minutes in boiling salted water. This is just to slightly soften them. Drain well and splash with a little olive oil so they don’t stick together as they cool.

6. Cover the base of a large baking dish with a splash of olive oil at the botton followed by a light layer of good quality tomato passata.

7. This is now the laborious bit! Stuff each cannelloni tube well with the filling and line them up tightly in the dish. Cover them again with a light layer of tomato passata, spread evenly over the tubes.

Method for the all-in-one cheesy bechamel sauce: In a large pan put in the cold milk, double cream, butter, flour, finely chopped onion, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Put on a medium heat and keep whisking constantly until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Do not let it catch on the bottom! Let it bubble for a minute or 2 before sieving into a large bowl. While still hot stir in the grated cheese and season well to taste.

8. To finish off the dish, cover the cannelloni with a layer of cheese bechamel sauce, followed by a few extra splodges of passata on the top. Finally dust with parmesan cheese before baking in the oven at 180 C for 45 minutes. I tend to cover it with foil for the first 20 minutes to ensure it doesn’t brown too quickly.

9. I like serving this with crusty bread or garlic bread on the side and a green salad.

10. Enjoy 🙂

Hope you enjoy making this! Leave me a comment if you give it a try. Thank you for reading 🙂

Published by Laura

Born in France to English parents, but living in Scotland for the past 20 years now. Passionate about cooking and tasty simple food.

6 thoughts on “My Mum’s Beef and Spinach Cannelloni

    1. Thanks Hilary! 2 options spring to mind: Spinach and mushroom cannelloni – I would swap the beef like for like for a selection of wild mushrooms (or even sliced chestnut mushrooms) sweated down gently in a pan in some butter or olive oil, and then mixed with spinach. I would also add some extra grated parmesan to the filling to add more flavour.
      Another option would be roasted butternut squash (or pumpkin) and spinach cannelloni. I would roast a cubed peeled butter nut squash (or some pumpkin) and some chopped red onion with 3 sliced garlic cloves, some thyme, salt and pepper and olive oil for 30 minutes at 180 C and them mix that with the spinach instead of the beef.


  1. Thanks for the tubes tip! I got some from the Mart today 🙂
    I like to make my cannelloni with veal (the ethically produced kind). We had a sneaky visit to Waitrose yesterday and I got some veal mince. It’s hard to come by veal in Scotland, especially in a butcher. I lived in London for years where it’s not a problem. However, M&S have started doing osso bucco 😛😛😛. Do you ever cook with it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear it 😊 No I have ever bought veal in Scotland as it is hard to come by but have in France when I go back. Like you I am particular about where my meat comes from. I use Linton butchers and have not been disappointed yet. It’s good to know Waitrose stocks ethical veal!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes the Linton is a great butcher. I was loyal to Colin Peat in Haddington for many years but he retired last month and shut the shop so I can shop at the Linton guilt free :)!
        Also, I see I have inadvertently linked to my old abandoned blog by making a comment on WordPress 🙈. I couldn’t find the time for it and I was worried that 90% of my repertoire was River Cottage 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I will have a look over it 😊 love getting inspiration to try new things! Thanks for taking the time to comment on mine 😊 not sure where I ‘m going to go with it but enjoying sharing so far!


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