I had a cooking mistress in a class one day lament the acts of terrorism being committed against Italian cooking. Don’t worry no one is hijacking Cannoli for nefarious purposes or dropping gnocchi like missiles from planes, though quite like the idea of gnocchi dropping from the sky 🙂 What she meant was that much Italian food had become reinterpreted and short-cutted to such a point that the craft of the food was undermined. I totally put my hand up for committing some horrible acts and the following recipe is likely to be one of these.
While I like cheese sauce on many things, sometimes I feel that it can overcome the otherwise fresh flavours of foods and those cannelloni dishes I was served as a child in Italian restaurants were often so loaded with cheese sauce they could have filled the cannelloni with anything and you wouldn’t have been able to tell. For this reason I have tried to make a lighter version that is packed with lots of flavour but is also satisfying. I can not emphasise enough how roasting the pumpkin increases the flavour. Boiling it simply isn’t the same, and I quite like anything I can bung in an oven a leave for 30 mins while I get on with a glass of wine and a book, I call it time management. The red onions become sweet from being roasted and the goats cheese adds enough creaminess that you don’t feel that you need a béchamel sauce to cover it. Best of all you are getting a good dose of your vegetable needs in one dish!
Do you sometimes commit crimes against Italian food?
Pumpkin, Spinach and Goats cheese Cannelloni
A Legal Tart recipe
- 1 butternut pumpkin chopped into chunks
- 1 red onion cut into segments
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 100 gms goats cheese
- 300 grams of chopped spinach(frozen) defrosted and squeezed of water
- 100 gms of pinenuts toasted
- 1 Egg
- 250 gms Onion and Garlic Pasta sauce
- Grated mozzarella
1. Roast the pumpkin with the red onion and some olive oil until soft and burnished. Cool the pumpkin. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin
2. Mash the pumpkin and garlic until slightly smooshed but with some texture. Then add the spinach, goats cheese pinenuts, egg and onion and combine with a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste
3. Spoon pumpkin mixture into the cannelloni sheets and roll then place in the baking tray. Repeat until all the cannelloni sheets are used.
4. Top with tomato pasta sauce and as much grated mozzarella as you prefer. I used about 2 handfuls.
5. Bake until skewer detects a tender pasta sheet and the cheese is golden and melted, about 30 mins.
*I did have some mixture left over. I used this in wonton wrappers to make ravioli. You can freeze the cooked cannelloni.