During the fall, we often get pumpkins as part of our CSA share. Some are the little pie pumpkins, but some are the large pumpkins more appropriate for jack o’ lanterns. We used to carve the large ones, but, for the past few years, we’ve roasted them and mashed the cooked flesh for freezing, with the idea that we’ll use it as a vegetable throughout the year. Sometimes we’re not sure how to use the pumpkin, and it’s always easy to fall back onto the standby of pumpkin bread, but not this time.
This time, we’re making Pumpkin Cannelloni. But don’t worry if you’ve carved your pumpkin; we’ll suggest substitutes below. Also, if you don’t want to make cannelloni, this filling will work fine for ravioli, too. In case you’re wondering where this comes from, it’s a scratchin’ original, and you learned about it here.
Canned pumpkin will work, and so will butternut squash or acorn squash. Almost any winter squash should be fine, provided it’s mashed and well-drained, but still moist. The moisture in the squash cooks the pasta. We used goat cheese because we knew the pumpkin would be mild; feel free to use ricotta cheese, instead. For the egg, get it from a happy hen. You may see something labeled Parmesan in green cylinders, but be aware that it isn’t real Parmesan (it doesn’t come from Parma), so don’t be fooled. A good substitute is Grana Padano cheese. For the pasta dough, we used a freshly-scratched Green Pasta which we wrote about on Tuesday, but plain pasta dough will work, too.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter or oil a 8 x 12 inch baking dish.
Drain pumpkin. Since we roast our own pumpkin, we have to drain it before using. If you use caned, you’ll be able to skip this step. What you want is a moist squash that will hold together when you form it into a ball by squeezing it in your fist.
Make filling. Making cannelloni filling is easy. Just put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until uniform. So, place the pumpkin, the cheeses, an egg, and the sage, rosemary, and thyme in the bowl and mix.
Season. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. You can also adjust the amount of other spices, too, of course. If you’re concerned about raw eggs, mix and adjust the seasoning before adding the egg; it doesn’t really matter when you add it. There, our filling is done.
Roll and fill. Roll your pasta dough as thin as you can, trying to keep it about 4 inches wide. Using a machine, we roll it on the second-to- thinnest setting; the sheet is translucent. Once rolled, cut the sheet into lengths about 12 inches long. Place a line of filling down the center of the sheet and roll it up as you would a sushi roll.
Slice. Once rolled, slice the cannelloni into about 3-inch lengths and place in the prepared baking dish. Repeat rolling and filling until all the dough and the filling are gone. You should end up with about 24 cannelloni.
Bake. Cover the baking dish tightly — you don’t want the pasta to roast and get crispy; it should cook, but stay tender — and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through.
Serve. We plated our cannelloni, poured a Sage Brown Butter sauce over the top, and garnished with more Parmesan cheese.
We knew while we were making that this would taste pretty good — after all, we tasted some filling while mixing — but it was even better when baked. The baking seemed to concentrate the flavor of the goat cheese, making the filling slightly tangy, which paired nicely with the herbs. While we chose a sage butter sauce, these cannelloni would also be very good with a cream sauce, perhaps even a light Alfredo sauce; we think that you could serve them singly (without sauce) as a small appetizer, somewhat like an Italian egg roll. Overall, we think that, between the ease of making and how tasty they were, these cannelloni deserve the full five stars.