Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Cannelloni is elegant enough for a special dinner for two and you don’t even need to boil the pasta!
Most baked pasta dishes are not easy to do on a small scale and who wants to eat the same thing for an entire week?
This Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Cannelloni is easy to do on a small scale. It’s elegant enough for a special dinner for two and you don’t even need to cook the pasta first.
Cannelloni and manicotti are terms that get used interchangeably, however, subtle differences exist. Basically, cannelloni is made with sheets of pasta or crepes and rolled to contain the filling while manicotti starts with large dried pasta tubes and is then stuffed. Flat no-boil dried lasagna noodles (such as Barilla) work perfectly in place of fresh pasta sheets or crepes. The noodles require only short soaking in hot tap water so that they’re pliable for rolling.
Because it’s just my husband and myself, I didn’t want to purchase an entire container of ricotta cheese for the filling. What generally happens at our house is we use only a small amount and then have to figure out how to use the rest. Ricotta does not keep as well as cream cheese and I end up throwing half of it out. Instead, I used spreadable cream cheese flavored with onions and chives. I only used half of an 8-ounce container here, but the remainder is easier to use up than ricotta.
Use frozen artichoke hearts if possible. Frozen artichoke hearts have better flavor than canned. If you can find them in a bag versus a box, you’ll be able to remove what you need and return the rest to the freezer for use at a later date.
The Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Cannelloni is then smothered in a creamy Parmesan bechamel. A bechamel is a simple, white roux-based sauce that actually has roots in Italy.
When topping the cannelloni with the sauce, be sure to leave the edges slightly uncovered so they get nice and crispy when baked.
Chicken, Spinach and Artichoke Cannelloni is elegant enough for a special dinner for two and you don't even need to boil the pasta!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 6 flat no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach (packed)
- 8 frozen artichoke hearts (about 1/2 cup), thawed, patted dry and coarsely chopped
- 1 large boneless skinless chicken breast half (about 1 cup), cooked and diced
- 4 ounces cream cheese with chives and onions (1/2 of an 8-ounce container), room temperature
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. Fill a shallow pan with hot tap water. Soak the lasagna noodles until pliable while preparing the filling. When pliable, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Place spinach in a microwave-safe container and add 1-2 tablespoons water. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until wilted. Drain, cool, squeeze out any excess water and coarsely chop. Combine spinach, artichoke hearts, chicken, cream cheese, garlic, 1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Set aside.
Heat butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened. Stir in salt and pepper, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. Pour 1/2 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Place even amounts of the chicken filling on one of the short sides of the lasagna noodles. Roll up and arrange in a row on the bechamel sauce. Pour remaining sauce over the cannelloni. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.\
Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 to 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling.
MAKE AHEAD: Can be prepped 1 day ahead. Prepare up to the point of baking and refrigerate.