Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Cannelloni with Butternut Squash Cream Sauce

I admit: I'm a butternut squash fiend. Soup, pasta, you name it, I'll probably love it. It seems to go well with almost anything. A few months ago, I was at a local restaurant that served sun-dried tomato and goat cheese ravioli in a butternut squash velouté. I thought I could duplicate the dish at home - maybe even make it better - and last weekend, I set out to prove myself right.

In short? I was oh-so-deliciously right. Instead of goat cheese and ravioli, I used oven-ready cannelloni shells filled with ricotta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and freshly wilted spinach. Then I covered it with an adaptation of Rachael Ray's Pumpkin Cream Sauce and baked it until the pasta was tender and the sauce was a-bubblin'.

Squash, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach might sound like a busy combination, but the flavours pair so well together. Squash lovers: you will love this.

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Cannelloni with Butternut Squash Cream Sauce
Serves 5-6 (3-4 cannelloni each)

Butternut Squash Cream Sauce
Adapted from Rachael Ray's Pumpkin Cream Sauce via Tart Reform

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion or 4 shallots, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Cooked, pureed flesh from a 2 lb. butternut squash (or a box of frozen butternut squash puree)
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup water or chicken stock
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
2. In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Return the pasta to the pot along with the reserved pasta cooking water and toss. Stir in the parmesan; season with salt and pepper.
3. Top the pasta with the parsley and more parmesan.

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Cannelloni
Approximately 20 cannelloni tubes, oven-ready
1 tub ricotta (454g)
4 oz. fresh spinach, wilted and chopped (or frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained)
2 large sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed, finely chopped
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F.

With a fork, mix ricotta, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add egg and mix until ingredients are well-blended.

Using a pastry bag (or your well-washed hands), fill the oven-ready cannelloni tubes with the filling.

If you have already made the butternut squash sauce, spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish. If not, leave the filled cannelloni on a plate and continue making the pasta sauce, spreading the 1/2 cup of sauce over the baking dish when it is ready.

Next, place the cannelloni in the baking dish, over top of the sauce. Cover completely with the remaining butternut squash sauce.

Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.


Kayte February 25, 2009 at 9:19:00 AM EST  

All this looks incredibly wonderful...I am stealing the recipes right now, don't even try to stop me! LOL. Beautiful photos as well. Thanks for sharing!

Kaitlin February 25, 2009 at 10:03:00 AM EST  

Kayte, so glad you like the looks of it - and glad to hear you're grabbing the recipe! Trust me, it's so delicious. A really tasty flavour combination.

matty February 25, 2009 at 10:57:00 AM EST  

I bet you really liked that!

vibi February 25, 2009 at 3:55:00 PM EST  

Woah... all those mouthwatering words make my head spin! That sounds fantastic! ...and not even tooooooo hard on the figure! YUM!

Anonymous February 25, 2009 at 4:25:00 PM EST  

Oh,man. That looks really delicious. Good for you for replicating a dish from a restaurant. Food you make yourself is always better. :)

MaryBeth February 26, 2009 at 7:59:00 PM EST  

They look great, they sound like it would just be a party of flavors in every bite. Great Job Kaitlin!

Anonymous February 26, 2009 at 9:28:00 PM EST  

this looks SO delicious, and relatively healthy too!!

Kaitlin February 28, 2009 at 5:48:00 PM EST  

Thanks everyone! As far as its nutritional value, I'm not sure how bad ricotta cheese is for you, and of course there's some half-and-half in the butternut squash sauce, but with all of the veggies, this dish is definitely loaded with vitamins.

Scattered Mom March 1, 2009 at 2:05:00 PM EST  

Omg those look delish! :) I love butternut squash too. I'll have to bookmark that recipe.

Ages ago you had left a comment on my blog, and I'm sorry it's taken me this long to get back to you. Your site looks fantastic! I'd love to add you to my blog roll.

Kaitlin March 1, 2009 at 3:46:00 PM EST  

Scattered Mom: I'm glad this recipe appeals to you! I'd love it if you added me to your blogroll. I'll do the same.

Dazy June 11, 2009 at 1:09:00 AM EDT  

Delicious looking and delicious tasting and quite simple to make! I've never tried this before. This is pure delight and I'm sure to make them again.

Sue10026 December 7, 2009 at 11:21:00 PM EST  

Where can one get real cannelloni tubes in this country (or on this continent? De Cecco and Castiglione make them but they will no longer export them to the US, perhaps because they are fragile. They are much thinner than manicotti and I used to get them in Europe and once in California, but that store closed and that was that. These were dried tubes that didn't have to be boiled first, they were oven ready.

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