Every fall we visit a local farm. It's one of my most favorite days of the year as a family. Since it's just down the street from my in-laws cottage, it was a place my mother-in-law visited regularly. In fact, I'm pretty sure she's funded one of the improvements they've made to the grounds with the zillions of gifts she picked up in its shop over the years. Sadly, when we lost her, it was right around the time Scarlett was of an age where she began to appreciate the activities Springridge offers. From hourly puppet shows, face painting and crafts, a petting zoo, hay ride, Boo barn, pony rides, corn trail and about enough hay structures to choke a horse (literally), the kid would quite happily live there. I'm pretty sure Sheila gets a kick out of watching her delight every visit from wherever she is.
Since we can't leave the place without a ton of pumpkins, the pressure was on to find a recipe to accommodate our haul. There's all different ways to take shortcuts with it too.
Pumpkin and Sage Cannelloni
3 1/3 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced
3 sage leaves
Pinch of nutmeg
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated (Plus two tablespoons for baking)
2 tablespoons of butter
1 leek, sliced thin (use white only)
14 cannelloni tubes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of onion, chopped
3 basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a glass oven dish. Melt butter in saucepan then add the pumpkin and the leeks. Cook on low heat until the pumpkin begins to soften. Mix in garlic and 1/2 cup water. Cover and continue cooking on low heat for about 10 minutes or until pumpkin in tender. Shortcut number 1: Use canned pumpkin. Skip adding pumpkin and water and just saute leeks and garlic in butter. Jump to the food processor.
Drain and slightly cool. Place pumpkin mixture in food processor with sage and nutmeg. Process until smooth and then add to bowl with ricotta and parmesan.
Shortcut number 2: Use already grated parmesan cheese.
Fill a piping bag with cheese mixture and pipe into cannelloni shells. Pour half the sauce in the baking dish then fill with cannelloni. Pour the remaining sauce on the cannelloni and sprinkle with extra parmesan.
Saute onion and garlic in pan with olive oil. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 cup of water. Simmer on low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occassionaly. Place in food processor. Process and then put to the side.
Shortcut number 3: Use prepared sauce.
I took the long route when I made these, but I've used canned pumpkin in the past and it comes out tasty as well. I even found some square lasagna noodles without rippled edges and used those since my local store was out of cannelloni shells. I cooked the pasta and then piped in the filling and rolled.
The pumpkin flavor is very subtle in these which was a good thing. My recent binge of pumpkin recipes has left my family with a pumpkin hangover. I was worried that Scarlett would turn her nose up at them, but she didn't. She scarfed them down with her broccolini. When she was done she promptly asked for the ghost cookie she got in her halloween bag at school. I'm pretty sure that didn't come from a farm.