Cannelloni are a favorite stuffed pasta that are frequently (and incorrectly) called manicotti (manicotti, also known as Piedmont cannelloni, are actually savory filled crepes). In the spirit of this blog, this dish is something that hardly anyone tries from scratch – go on the internet and the best you’ll do is come up with a bunch of recipes that call for boxed pasta tubes and all manner of canned ingredients for filling. Yet they are very easy to make from scratch, albeit a little time consuming. Here’s how.
Start with a pumpkin. Pretty much any pumpkin will do. This one was about the size of a soccer ball and yielded seven servings.
Cut the pumpkin in half, remove seeds.
Lay flat on a baking sheet, bake at 350F for about an hour, until the flesh comes out easily with a spoon. Spoon out all the flesh and put in a colander to drain for an hour.
Make some semolina pasta. Use 1 cup semolina flour, 1 cup all purpose flour, 3 eggs and about 1/3 cup olive oil. Knead ingredients by hand or in a machine for about 5-7 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap for an hour. After dough rests, cut ball in 8 pieces, and work each piece with a pasta machine or rolling pin, make it as thin as possible. Each piece will yield two 4×6 inch rectangles.
Caramelize an onion.
Add the pumpkin and about a tablespoon of fresh chopped sage. Salt to taste.
Place a mound of pumpkin filling about the size of a roll of quarters on each rectangle. Roll the dough around the filling, overlapping the ends.
Place each roll in a greased baking dish. You should place a small layer of bechamel in the pan first. Make a bechamel by melting a couple tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Whisk in a heaping tabelspoon of flour (now it’s a roux). Add about 1.5 cups milk, a dash of ground nutmeg, and raise heat to high until sauce thickens.
Finish adding filled pasta rolls, cover with bechamel, then with grated cheese and a little ground pepper. Bake at 350F until sauce is bubbling and cheese browns, about 40 minutes.
This dish used a $2 pumpkin, about $1.50 worth of ingredients to make the pasta, another $1 for the bechamel, and let’s say $1 for grated cheese. Total, $5.50. It yielded 7 servings, for a total of 79 cents per serving. Another great meal for less than a buck.