Chicken Spinach Ricotta Cannelloni

Chicken, Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni | Reflux Recipe | Low-Fat Recipe

Cannelloni are a delicious way to enjoy pasta, with the filling taking centre stage!

This is my low-fat, reflux-friendly* Chicken, Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni recipe with a Roasted Sweet Pepper sauce (as a replacement for tomatoes), which I hope you will love as much as I do! And although it’s reflux-friendly and low in fat, it’s packed with flavour and a treat for the whole family to enjoy.

I do use garlic in this (and many of my recipes!) as I love the stuff and luckily it doesn’t set off my reflux, but if it is one of the ingredients that sets yours off, you can replace it with a herb of your choice or, even better, simply use some nutmeg in the ricotta mixture, to complement the nutmeg in the white sauce.

Chicken Spinach Ricotta Cannelloni

Ingredients

For the cannelloni filling:
  • 6 chicken thigh fillets
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 500g young/baby spinach
  • 250g ricotta (I use Sainsbury’s, which has 10.1% fat – the highest fat content I’ll allow myself in any reflux-friendly meal)
  • 5g butter
  • a sprinkling of sea salt
For the white sauce (Not strictly-speaking a béchamel sauce as I use only a hint of butter and, to keep it light, cornflour instead of flour.  I also don’t make this with a traditional roux as a starting point):
  • 1l semi-skimmed milk
  • 6tbsp cornflour
  • 10g butter
  • sea salt (to taste)
  • freshly-grated nutmeg (to taste)
For the crunchy breadcrumb topping:
  • 1-2 slices toasted brown bread
  • a small handful of porridge oats
  • a generous sprinkling of sea salt, rosemary & dried garlic
  • Optional: 30g finely-grated parmesan

To make the breadcrumb topping, simply blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until you achieve a fine consistency.  A high power processor such as a Nutribullet will achieve a finer consistency, but any food processor with chopping blades will work very well.  You can prepare these in advance – even the previous day, or use leftover ones from other recipes using breadcrumbs.  If you are planning on adding parmesan, add this just before you use the breadcrumbs.

Additional Ingredients:
  • Approx. 500ml roasted sweet pepper sauce
  • Approx. 20 cannelloni tubes (there are 25 in a 250g pack from Sainsbury’s and we used 20 – you will need as many as it takes to create one even layer in your roasting dish)
  • 1 cal spray cooking oil

Chicken Spinach Ricotta Cannelloni 2

Method

If you haven’t already done so, prepare roasted sweet pepper sauce, but to save time, make this in advance and use it on the day.

Next, finely chop the garlic, trim all visible fat off the chicken and dice it into small pieces of approximately 0.5cm.  Brown the chicken and garlic (If you use herbs instead of garlic, add them at this point.  If you use nutmeg, add it at the end, after you have added the ricotta – see instructions further down) with 5g of butter in a non-stick pan over a high heat, adding a sprinkling of sea salt.  Cook it for 2-3 minutes, still over a high heat, so the chicken is just cooked and has released some lovely juices (these will later help flavour the ricotta).  Leave to one side to cool.

Bring a large pan/stockpot of water to the boil and, once it’s boiling, add the spinach (don’t worry if it doesn’t fit – push it down and you can add more as it quickly wilts as soon as it hits the boiling water).  Wilt all the spinach (it will take 30 seconds to one minute max), stirring to make sure it’s wilted evenly, then drain and remove all the excess water by repeatedly pressing it with the back of a spoon in a sieve.  Aim to get it as dry as possible, then transfer it to a chopping board and roughly chop it up.  Add the chopped spinach to the cooling chicken and stir.  Leave to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (fan-assisted).

Now make the white sauce: 

Heat 800ml of the milk with 10g of butter, add a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly-grated nutmeg (I go quite heavy on the nutmeg as this helps make the white sauce taste rich and indulgent, but if you’re not sure, go easy and then add some after the white sauce is cooked, to taste).

Once the milk has reached simmering point and the butter has melted, mix the remaining milk with the cornflour and pour it into the hot milk, stirring continuously with a whisk (do not whisk it though, you don’t want frothy white sauce!).  Keep stirring until the sauce has reached a thick, velvety consistency.  Taste and add salt & nutmeg if required.

Now stir the ricotta into the slightly cooled chicken and spinach.  Check the taste and add salt if needed.  If you didn’t use garlic, add nutmeg at this point.

If you haven’t made the breadcrumbs in advance, now is the time to make them.

It’s now time to assemble the cannelloni dish: 

Place enough roasted sweet pepper sauce into the bottom of your roasting dish to cover it to approximately 0.5cm depth (As you can see from the photos, the resulting dish will be succulent but not oozing with sauce. If you want more sauce, add more to the bottom of your dish at this assembly stage.).

Fill the cannelloni tubes with the chicken, spinach and ricotta mixture, using the stem of a teaspoon to push the mixture in all the way.  You need to pack each tube full of ingredients from end to end.

Tip: If you have any chicken, spinach & ricotta filling left over, refrigerate it and use it the next day as a sauce for spaghetti or other pasta.  Simply remove from the fridge to bring to room temperature and dilute a little with some of the pasta water once the pasta is cooking (this is done with a number of pasta sauces in Italy), then stir through the pasta.  You can also add a bit more ricotta to make it go further as a pasta sauce – there is so much flavour in the mixture that it can stand a bit of dilution.

Lay all the tubes over the roasted sweet pepper sauce in one even layer, then cover the whole dish with the white sauce.  Sprinkle 2-3 handfuls of breadcrumbs over the top of the white sauce and spray with 1 cal spray cooking oil.

Place the dish into the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes, checking at the end with a skewer to make sure you meet no resistance from the pasta.

Leave to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with a Roasted Sweet Pepper Sauce | Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Low-Fat, Gloriously Good!

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified.  The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‘Dropping Acid – The Reflux Diet’ book and ingredients that work for my reflux.  If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you.  I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management.  The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet. 

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Low-Fat Arancini | Porcini Mushroom Arancini | Reflux Recipe | Low Fat Recipe

Low-Fat Arancini | Porcini Mushroom and Mozzarella Arancini | Risotto Balls

Arancini (‘Risotto Balls’) are a delicious light meal, buffet food item for parties or as a starter

This is a recipe for low-fat, reflux-friendly baked porcini mushroom arancini

These arancini are baked, not fried.  This makes quite a few arancini – you can either reduce the quantities or you can freeze leftover ones and then re-heat them in the oven.

This recipe should suit most reflux* sufferers, but if you’re following the very rigid reflux induction diet from the ‘Dropping Acid‘ book, you will need to make the following changes:

  • Make the changes in the risotto as indicated in the risotto recipe
  • Do not use mozzarella – these arancini are equally delicious without the gooey cheese filling

Ingredients (this will make approximately 60-65 arancini)

  • Porcini mushroom risotto (see recipe), cooled & refrigerated – this works best if you make the risotto the previous day so it can be refrigerated overnight, but if you don’t have time to do this, make the risotto in the morning and give it as long as possible in the fridge.  If it’s still warm, it will be harder to shape into balls that don’t fall apart
  • 5 slices wholemeal bread, toasted
  • 40g porridge oats
  • A sprinkling of fine sea salt
  • 150g mozzarella, torn into small pieces (approx. 1cm squared)
  • Spray cooking oil (e.g. Frylight Olive)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan) or 220° if it’s not fan-assisted.

While the oven is pre-heated, prepare your ingredients: 

Toast the slices of bread, let them cool a little, then tear them and place them in a food processor with the porridge oats and a generous sprinkling of salt.  Blitz them to a medium-fine consistency (not a powder, but not too big and lumpy either).

Drain the mozzarella and tear into small pieces, about 1cm squared.

Now it’s time to start making the arancini: 

Take a small amount of rice into your hand (use vinyl or latex gloves to stop the rice sticking to your hands).  The amount will be something you develop a ‘feel’ for – you’re aiming for risotto balls that are approximately the size of a golf ball. Squeeze the risotto a little bit, to help it stick together, then make a well in the palm of your hand.

Place a small piece of mozzarella into the well, close up the well and roll the risotto into a ball, ensuring the mozzarella is fully enclosed in rice so it doesn’t leak out.

Once you have shaped a risotto ball, roll it into the breadcrumbs and place onto a non-stick oven tray.

Repeat until you have made all the risotto balls (you will need 2-3 large oven trays).

Spray all the arancini with 1 cal spray cooking oil and place in the pre-heated oven.

Cook for 30 mins and serve – if you have them as a starter, you would typically have these on their own, but they also go nicely with a side salad.

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Low-Fat, Gloriously Good

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified.  The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‘Dropping Acid – The Reflux Diet’ book and ingredients that work for my reflux.  If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you.  I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management.  The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet. 

Low-Fat Porcini Mushroom Risotto | Low Fat Recipe | Reflux Recipe

This low-fat, reflux-friendly porcini mushroom risotto is delicious on its own

or when you make it into low-fat baked arancini (risotto balls)

This recipe should suit most reflux* sufferers, but if you’re following the very rigid reflux induction diet from the ‘Dropping Acid‘ book, you will need to make the following changes:

  • Substitute the butter with a tablespoon of olive oil
  • Do not use any parmesan cheese

The quantities below make 8 generous portions, as I like to make lots and turn some or all of the risotto into arancini (risotto balls) – any leftover arancini can be frozen and re-heated.

Ingredients (for 8 generous portions)

  • 700g arborio rice
  • 100g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1l boiling water
  • 100ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 20g butter
  • 2.5l chicken stock (or vegetable stock), made with the strained mushroom soak (milk & water), topped up with biling water to 2.5l, plus 5 Knorr Stockpots (or the equivalent amount of good quality stock cubes to make 2.5l of stock)
  • 40g grated parmesan

Method

Soak the mushrooms for 20 mins in 1 litre of boiling water mixed with 100ml cold semi-skimmed milk.

Heat the butter in a large stock-pot (cooking the risotto is even easier if you use a non-stick stock pot).  Remove the mushrooms from the water/milk soak and squeeze all liquid out with your hands.

TipLift the mushrooms out of their soak without going to the bottom of the bowl you’ve soaked them in, as there will be lots of sediment settled in the bottom.  The soak will still be very hot, so take care not to burn yourself.  Wearing latex/vinyl gloves may help and will also stop your nails discolouring from the mushroom soak. 

Add the mushrooms to the stockpot with the butter, along with a generous pinch of salt.  Keep the heat high but stir frequently to make sure the mushrooms don’t stick or burn.

Meanwhile, make the stock: Strain all sediment out of the mushroom soak (water/milk), top it up with boiling water to make 2.5l of liquid and add 5 stockpots (or enough stock cubes to make 2.5l of stock).  Stir vigorously for the stockpots to dissolve in the water.

After a minute or so, add the rice and stir to let it absorb the butter and mushroom flavour.  Stir to make sure it doesn’t stick and once the rice looks slightly glossy from the butter (should take no longer than a minute), add the stock.

Pour enough stock onto the rice to cover it, stir gently and once it’s started simmering, turn down the heat to keep it simmering gently.  Leave it to simmer, keeping a close eye on it but resisting the temptation to over-stir as you don’t want to break the rice grains.

Top up with more stock every time most of the stock has been absorbed.

Keep this going until the rice is cooked, but still with a bit of bite (‘al dente’).  This should take approximately 20 minutes, but as rice is a natural ingredient, how long it takes and much stock you end up using is variable.

Make sure the risotto isn’t too dry at the end (so add very little stock each time as you’re nearing the end of cooking).  You want it to be slightly wet as it will absorb more as it stands and, when you add the parmesan, this will also make it drier.

Stir in the grated parmesan and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

For those not on a low-fat diet / reflux diet, you can serve this with more parmesan to grate onto each dish at the table.

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Reflux-Friendly, Gloriously Low-Fat, Gloriously Good

*Please note I am not a doctor, speech therapist or in any way medically qualified.  The recipes are a combination of my interpretation of the rules outlined in the ‘Dropping Acid – The Reflux Diet’ book and ingredients that work for my reflux.  If you believe you suffer from reflux, please seek advice from a medical professional to confirm your diagnosis and work out the best course of treatment/management for you.  I hope that my recipes can help you as part of this management.  The recipes are, by their nature, very low in fat, so are also suitable for anyone wishing to follow a low-fat diet.