This baked, pumpkin and ricotta stuffed cannelloni dish is very subtle, mildly spiced but packed with flavour. The filling consists of yellow/orange pumpkin which provides the filling with a little sweet taste, ricotta, walnuts (almonds can also be used insead) and rosemary. The cannelloni’s are stuffed with the filling and topped with a smooth and creamy béchamel sauce and more cheese. It is baked till the pasta is cooked, the sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.
This dish may be a bit time consuming but I promise you that it is totally worth it. Once everything is prepped, it’s just about mixing the ingredients together and baking it. This is a rustic dish meant for sharing with the family. It’s very filling and there is no need for a side with it but I like to serve it with a simple salad. I usually opt for a carrot ribbon salad with walnuts, lettuce, shaved carrots and a simple honey mustard dressing or even a balsamic dressing goes well. I’d also like to say that this isn’t an Italian dish, it’s just made with cannelloni and ricotta but isn’t Italian.
Ingredients: (Serves 3)
- Cannelloni tubes- 6 (I used the ones from Barilla)
- Grated mozzarella cheese- 30 grams
For Pumpkin And Ricotta Filling–
- Yellow pumpkin or butternut squash- 200g
- Ricotta cheese- 120 g
- Grated mozzarella- 30 grams
- Salt and pepper- to taste
- Grated nutmeg- 1/4 teaspoon
- Garlic- 2-3 cloves; finely chopped
- Onion- 1 small
- Dried rosemary or thyme- 1 teaspoon; chopped
- Olive oil- 1 1/2 teaspoon
- Chopped walnuts- 20 grams or 6 whole walnuts chopped (Almonds can also be used or if you are allergic to nuts omit it)
- Lime juice- 1/4 teaspoon or 2-3 drops
For White Sauce–
- Butter- 1 1/2 tablespoon or 25 grams
- All purpose flour- 11/2 tablespoon or 25 grams
- Milk- 2 cups or 500 ml
- Nutmeg- 1/4 teaspoon
- Salt and pepper- to taste
For The Filling–
Heat a pan with the olive oil and once the oil is hot, add the chopped garlic and chopped onion and fry it till golden. Add the cubed pumpkin, 1 teaspoon of salt, chopped rosemary or thyme along with 1/2 cup or 125 ml of water and mix it well. Cover the pan with a lid and cook it till it is tender, soft and a spoon can cut through it easily without any resistance. Once cooked, mash it lightly with fork, add the ricotta, grated mozzarella, chopped nuts, lime juice, grated nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix it well. Taste it to check for the salt and pepper. Make sure you do not put too much of salt because even the sauce will have salt and cheese also has salt. Set it aside to cool.
For The White Sauce–
Add the butter to a pan and allow it to melt. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook the mixture/ roux for 2 mins. Whisk in the milk little at a time until you get a smooth and lump free sauce. Cook it for 2-3 minutes or until it coats the back of the spoon evenly and get a little thick. Make sure you whisk the sauce to make sure that no lumps are formed. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, nutmeg. Set it aside.
For Filling The Cannelloni And Baking–
Preheat the oven to 180° C or 350° F. Grease a 7 inch square or round tin
You can fill the cannelloni’s in 2 ways. One is to fill a piping bag with the filling and piping into the tubes. Another method is to use the back of a small spoon to fill the cannelloni’s. Once the cannelloni’s are filled, placethem on a greased baking tin. Add 1/2 cup of water to the sauce and whisk it in well to make sure there are no lumps and it is smooth. This will thin down the sauce and provide moisture for the pasta during the baking process. Pour the sauce over it, top it with the remaining 30 g mozzarella.
Bake it for 28-30 mins till the sauce is bubbling, top has browned and a knife inserted in the centre of the pasta goes in smoothly without any resistance. Top with finely chopped parsley or any herb for some colour and serve warm on it’s own or with a salad of your choice.