Squash and ricotta cannelloni

squash cannelloni 2

This is a lovely recipe based on one from Economy Gastronomy (yes, I know that I’ve been cooking a lot from this of late, but I really like it).  In the original recipe, they recommend using a massive pumpkin, cutting it into three 1kg segments, and using a segment for each recipe in this section of the book – one of which is this cannelloni.

Instead of buying a massive pumpkin, I used a butternut squash instead – one was just the right size.  Aside from that, I didn’t make many changes to the original recipe, except where I thought I could cut costs a little.  I used much less cheese, and just scattered it on the top (cheaper but also for health reasons), I used value dried lasagne instead of fresh (just cooking it in boiling water first so I could roll it – if you can’t be bothered, use fresh as they suggest or indeed dried cannelloni tubes), and I used dried sage instead of fresh too.

I’m not going to lie – it’s a bit of a faffy meal and does take a while to cook.  But I loved it and it made enough for two meals for the two of us (froze half of it in between heating it up again), so saved us cooking another night.  The portions weren’t enormous (the original recipe suggests it as a lunch recipe) and next time I’d probably do some garlic bread with it, or you could split it between three if you’re hungrier than us.  It’s not a super cheap recipe – £1 per portion when split into four or £1.33 when split into three – and you really do need to serve salad at least with it, which will add to the cost.  But it was so good that I’d definitely make it again.

squash cannelloni

Squash and Pumpkin Cannelloni (serves 3-4 with salad and/or garlic bread)

£1 per portion when split into four, not including garlic bread or salad

  • 1 butternut squash, cut into wedges 82p
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil 2p
  • One 250g tub of ricotta £1
  • Large pinch dried sage 2p
  • 8 dried lasagne sheets 19p
  • 1/2 250g pack mushrooms 38p
  • 200g fresh spinach, washed 85p
  • 500ml milk 25p
  • 40g butter 16p
  • 40g plain flour 2p
  • 50g cheddar cheese, grated 29p

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Toss the butternut squash in half of the oil, season well and arrange on a baking tray.  Roast for around 20-30 minutes, until soft.

Meanwhile, make the base for the cannelloni.  Heat the rest of the oil in a deep frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry for several minutes until soft.  Add the rinsed spinach, with most of the water shaken off, and add a lid or even cover with a clean tea towel for a minute.  Take off the lid, stir and the spinach should wilt down quickly.  Add to the bottom of the baking dish you’ll use for the cannelloni, discarding any extra water from the bottom of the pan.

Make the cheese sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan.  Remove from the heat, add the flour and mix to a paste.  Add the milk, whisk in and return to a medium heat.  Keep whisking for several minutes, until the sauce thickens up.  Set aside until needed.

Cook the lasagne sheets (if you aren’t using fresh ones, or dried cannelloni, both of which you can use as is) in a large pan of salted boiling water (add a few drops of vegetable oil to stop it sticking if you want).  Drain and make sure you peel apart any that are stuck straight away, as it gets harder the longer you leave them.

Once the squash is cooked through, remove from the oven.  Scrape the skins off (this is much easier to do when cooked) and discard.  Tip the squash into a large bowl and mash.  Allow to cool down a little, then add the ricotta and sage, and season well.

Preheat the oven to 180C (or just reduce it a little if it’s still on from cooking the squash).  Roll up the cannelloni by putting 1/8th of the squash mix on each lasagne sheet and rolling up into a tube.  Pack all the tubes into the baking dish over the spinach and mushroom base, then pour the white sauce over the top.  Scatter the cheese over and bake for 20-30 minutes, until browning on top.  Serve with a side salad.

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