Pumpkin Cannelloni with Sage and Ricotta
You will need a baking dish large enough to hold 8 cannelloni for this recipe. Bear in mind also that the dish needs to be deep enough to hold not only the cannelloni but also some spinach under the pasta and a thick sauce on top.
I had intended to give you a recipe to make fresh pasta for this dish. However, Allegra told me she always uses shop-bought fresh egg lasagne sheets for ease. I tried it and have to admit she’s right.
|1kg||wedge of pumpkin|
|10||sage leaves, chopped finely|
|salt and pepper|
|6-8||fresh lasagne sheets|
|250g||button mushrooms, sliced (about 150g)|
|200g||raw spinach, washed|
|40g||softened butter and 40g flour, mixed to a paste|
|175g||strong Cheddar cheese|
Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.
Cut your wedge of pumpkin in two to give you a couple of thinner wedges. The skin can be left on. Heat a glug of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the outsides of each wedge until they are nicely browned.
Put the coloured wedges of pumpkin on a baking tray and pop them in the oven to cook – this will take about half an hour, depending on how thick the wedges are. The best way to check them is to push a knife into the flesh and if it goes in with little resistance, then your pumpkin is done. At this point remove them
from the oven and allow them to cool, then remove the skin and chop the flesh into manageable chunks and put them into a large bowl.
Using a fork, very roughly mash the flesh, keeping a little texture. Add the ricotta cheese and the chopped sage and mix together. Taste for seasoning – you will probably need a little salt and a good twist of black pepper. This is the filling for your cannelloni and it can be used straight away, or you could store it in the fridge for a couple of days.
Making the actual cannelloni is very simple. Lay a sheet of fresh lasagne on a work surface, place a sausageshaped amount of pumpkin filling down the short edge and then simply roll them up. Make sure the seal is on the bottom. Put these rolled cannelloni in the fridge until you need them.
Heat a little olive oil in a saucepan and fry the mushrooms. Turn the heat in the pan right down and then throw in the spinach. If you have just washed your spinach, there will be enough water still on the leaves to cook it through, so don’t add any more. The heat of the pan will quickly wilt the spinach down, at which point tip both the spinach and the mushrooms into your chosen baking dish, discarding any liquid, and spread it out across the base. Allow it to cool slightly and then place your cannelloni on top. They should be tightly packed in, with no spinach showing. All that’s required now is a decent cheese sauce.
Bring the milk to a simmer and whisk in half the flour and butter paste. Keep whisking gently as it simmers – you are aiming for a fairly thick sauce, so add a little more of the paste if necessary. Now turn off the heat and mix in the Cheddar cheese. Pour this sauce over the cannelloni and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4 until piping hot and golden brown.