september 24, 2020
The enjoyment of pasta for me has always been about either the sauce on top or the cheesy goodness stuffed inside the pasta. Those of you who can relate will like this Butternut Pecan Cannelloni, flat pasta sheets stuffed with creamy cheese, toasted pecans and roasted butternut squash, topped with a tart caper tomato sauce which marries well with the slightly sweet filling.
You will also like that flat “no-boil” pasta sheets can be rolled up, thus avoiding the messy foray into stuffing filling inside those pesky pasta tubes (which were forever tearing, at least for me). True, there is the extra step of cooking the pasta until the sheets are soft and flexible, but this is a small price to pay for the nicely uniform appearance of cannelloni rollups made my way. I’ve become a fan of thinner flat lasagna sheets, since there’s more room for sauce and stuff in-between, naturally.
This is also a good make-ahead dinner; if refrigerating until ready to heat and serve, store sauce separate from the pasta rolls and pour sauce over just before the dish goes into the oven. If freezing for even later, you can apply sauce before freezing to keep the rolls moist.
Now that chillier weather is here, we want cozy comfort food. Within the hour you can have a piping hot pan of cannelloni on the table accompanied by a crisp autumn greens salad like Parsley Pear, Fall Harvest or Roasted Radish and Arugula. I would keep that autumn pattern rolling with a homey apple dessert like French Apple Pie. Sounds like a fall feast, huh? In case you are wondering, I write these posts when hungry.
Butternut Pecan Cannelloni
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 12 rolls, four to six servings
3/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
large clove garlic, zested on microplane grater
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes plus 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup rinsed small capers
12 no-boil flat gluten free lasagna noodles (Barilla or Mueller)*
1 cup pecans
4 cups small dice butternut squash, tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounce brick cream cheese
15 ounce container ricotta
medium clove garlic, zested on microplane grater
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
* regular pasta works well with this recipe – best is Barilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large pot with generous pinch of kosher salt.
- Add lasagna noodles one at a time, gently separating and stirring occasionally, until soft and flexible but not cooked all the way—this may take up to 10 minutes depending on pasta type.
- Drain noodles carefully and rinse with cool water; while water running over the noodles , remove them to two oiled sheet pans, six to a pan.
- In heavy quart saucepan, combine onion and olive oil with pinch of kosher salt over high heat; when mixture sizzles, turn heat to medium and stir frequently until onion softens and becomes translucent, about 10 minutes; add garlic, stir 5 seconds, then add crushed tomato, water and capers; mix well, then cook over medium low heat about 20 minutes.
- Spread out pecans on small sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes, then chop finely when cool.
- On another large sheet pan, combine butternut with second tablespoon olive oil and pinch of kosher salt, tossing with clean hands until coated; bake for 20 minutes.
- In large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese with ricotta, pecans, fine salt and medium clove garlic; add cooled butternut – this is your filling.
- Use spatula to smooth filling in bowl, mark line for half, then again for quarters; each quarter will fill 3 cannelloni rolls.
- Place portion of filling on lower one third of one pasta sheet, then roll up with filling coming to edges of roll.
- Place rolls close together in flat glass or ceramic baking pan, pour sauce on top and bake until heat through, about 30 minutes.
- To make ahead, refrigerate rolls and sauce separately up to 3 days ahead, adding sauce just before baking in oven; for freezing, pour sauce onto rolls to keep them moist and defrost overnight before heating as directed.