Cannelloni San Gimignano on Baked Tomatoes and Basil

  • 1 lb. fresh spinach
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup #3 coarse bulgur
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 24 fresh basil leaves
  • 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. grated Romano cheese
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 12 inch square sheets fresh egg pasta dough
  1. Wash the spinach to remove all traces of grit. Steam the spinach in a large pot with only the water that clings to the leaves. Cook, covered, over medium heat until the leaves are wilted, about three minutes. Drain the spinach, let it cool, then squeeze it dry with your hands and chop it finely. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the bulgur. Remove the saucepan from the heat an cover it. Stirring occasionally, let the bulgur stand until all of the water is absorbed, about five minutes. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the spinach with the bulgur, ricotta, egg, quarter cup of Parmesan, quarter cup of Romano, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Set this filling aside to let the flavors combine. Cut the tomatoes into inch-thick slices. Large tomatoes will yield about four slices each. Oil the bottom of a nine-by-nine inch baking dish with one tablespoon of the oil. Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer, and top each round with two basil leaves. Drizzle on two tablespoons of oil. Set the baking dish aside. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice into a small glass bowl. Add the remaining oil and the quarter teaspoon of salt, and press in the garlic. Whip with a fork and set the lemon sauce aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pasta sheets into 12 six-inch squares and begin to assemble the cannelloni. Lay out the pasta squares on a flat surface. Spread a heaping tablespoon of spinach filling down the center of each square, until you have used up all the filling. Roll the square pasta sheets into tubes, and place each cannellone, folded side down, on top of the tomatoes and basil leaves in the baking dish. Spoon the lemon sauce evenly over the cannelloni. Spinkle with the remaining Parmesan and Romano. Cover the dish with foil and bake for twenty to thirty minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to soften, releasing their own delicious juice to combine with the lemon sauce. Remove the dish from the oven and let the cannelloni cool, uncovered, for several minutes. Serve each guest two cannelloni with stewed tomatoes and spoonfuls of the delicious baking juice over all. Lean Grain Tip: Use part-skim ricotta in place of whole-milk ricotta. Replace the whole egg with two egg whites. Use eggless fresh pasta.