December 13, 2010

Acorn Squash Cannelloni

by Nate Rafn | Living Culture Recipe Archive

This dish is inspired by a recipe I learned while working for chef Jerry Phipps at Caruso's. Every autumn, during my time there, chef Phipps would prepare Butternut Squash Ravioli as a dinner special.

Customers loved it. The pasta was hand made, the stuffing tasted of sweet roasted squash, and the sauce was rich with Marsala wine, cream, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Chef Phipps also taught me how to make cannelloni, a sheet pasta that can be rolled and stuffed with any variation of vegetables, meats, and cheeses. It's a nice way to get creative with what you have on hand.

Acorn Squash Cannelloni - serves 8-10

With only a few exceptions, all of the following ingredients are available from local sources. In this case, the stuffing is made primarily with acorn squash, a reliable autumn vegetable that grows abundantly in the Willamette Valley.

Squash Stuffing:
2 large acorn squash
0.5 cup onion, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 eggs
1.5 tsp. salt
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
0.5 cup pepper-jack cheese, grated

1 cup and 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
2 eggs
extra flour for dusting

1 cup cream
pinch of salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
0.5 cup chopped parsley

Start by roasting the squash. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stems from the acorn squash. Cut in half lengthwise, and remove seeds. Arrange squash in a baking dish, skin side down. Place chopped onion into the cavities of each squash, dividing evenly. Drizzle olive oil on top, and bake for 1.5 hours, or until squash is fork tender and onions begin to darken. Set aside to cool.

Make the pasta dough while the squash is in the oven. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large soup pot. Place the all-purpose flour on a clean work surface. Create a mound, with a well in the center. Crack eggs into the well, and stir with a fork, incorporating a little flour at a time. Continue stirring until the dough becomes very thick. Begin kneading the dough with your hands, continuing until all of the flour is absorbed, and the dough is uniform and elastic. Using a heavy rolling pin, and a little more flour for dusting, roll-out the dough to form a large sheet, one eighth of an inch thick. If necessary, cut off sides of dough to create a large square or rectangular shape. Cut dough into 9 or 10 equally sized squares.

Drop 3 pasta squares at a time into the boiling water, and cook for 3 minutes. Shock the cooked pasta in a bowl of ice water to arrest the cooking. Next, lay the cooled pasta squares on a towel, and allow them to dry just a bit.

To make the stuffing, scoop out the onions and cooked squash, discarding the skin. In the bowl of a food processor, mix the cooked squash and onions with eggs, salt, ricotta cheese, and pepper-jack cheese. Puree with the blade attachment until smooth. Transfer the puree to a large mixing bowl, and add the panko bread crumbs. Stir until fully incorporated. The mixture should be thick and pasty.

Divide the stuffing evenly between the pasta squares. Gather stuffing to one side, and form a cylinder. Roll-up the pasta around the stuffing.

Heat your oven again to 350 degrees. Pour cream into a 13x9 inch baking pan (Pyrex is good.). Add a pinch of salt. Place the cannelloni in the pan, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and sprinkle with grated cheese and parsley. Cook again, uncovered, for 2 minutes longer, until cheese begins to melt.

Serve and enjoy!

Acorn squash-stuffed cannelloni pasta.

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