Have you heard? I have a bagillion Butternut squash in my garden. It’ headline news. Ok, maybe not, but WOW…thanks Mother Nature (or maybe my green thumb) for the abundance of squash this year! My kids, well, they aren’t thanking you so much. Even though my daughter proclaimed that my Roasted Butternut Squash Brie Mac & Cheese was “The best mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten”, until she found out it had squash in it. Then it was game over. I even tried to pass off the butternuts in biscuit form with my Butternut Squash & Sage Biscuits but the teenager scoffed at those too. I think she has some fear of “orange things”. So far I think her favorite squash laden meal was the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Spicy Sausage and Fried Sage but it’s also been almost a year since I sprang that one on her. So who knows. You know how teenagers are.
Anyway, I thought maybe she’d be open to it if I masked it by pureeing it and mixed it with Homemade Ricotta Cheese to make Manicotti. Maybe, just maybe she wouldn’t notice it. But, she has a younger brother, who has a giant mouth, who saw the butternut squash skins in the trash, who blurted it out to her immediately in an attempt to gross her out, who is not getting presents from Santa this year for this unfortunate act, who walked around with a giant smile on his face from being proud of his “accomplishment”. Yes, he’s that brother. And….of course, she didn’t like it. She’s a head-case. Moving on…
So the real deal here is this. This manicotti is decadent. It’s elegant. It’s easy to prepare. It’s so unbelievably delicious. It’s ….well, you just need to make it.
I love making crepes for my manicotti. It adds to the decadence of it all. But you could use store bought manicotti noodles too and achieve fantastic results as well.
The crepes don’t take long to make (less than a minute per crepe) and can be made ahead of time and stored in a sealed container for a day or so.
Fill the crepes with about 1/2 cup of squash ricotta and roll em up!
Adding some sauce to the bottom of the baking dish aids in easy extraction later. Cover with more sauce, parmesan cheese and foil and bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a big salad and some crusty bread and life will be complete. Just don’t invite my teenager…unless you want to listen to her belly-ache about eating another butternut squash meal. Kids these days.
Winter Squash, Sage & Fresh Ricotta Manicotti
1 3 lb butternut squash, or other winter squash, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 recipe of Homemade Ricotta Cheese, or large container of store bought (2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated
1/4 cup fresh sage, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted (or cooking spray)
1 jar of your favorite Marinara Sauce
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the quartered butternut squash on the baking sheet and drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Wrap tightly with foil and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Scoop out the pulp and add to the bowl of a food processor. Puree the squash until it is uniformly smooth. Measure out 2 cups worth of puree for the manicotti and reserve any remaining for another use. (See links below for ideas).
2 In a medium bowl add the 2 cups of squash puree, 2 cups of fresh ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and chopped sage. Mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Set aside.
3 Crepes: In a medium bowl, add the 3 eggs and break them up with a wooden spoon. Stir in the water until combined (don’t beat). Sift in the flour and salt and stir until just combined. Lumps are ok! Force the mixture through a medium-meshed sieve into another bowl. Brush an 8 inch nonstick skillet with butter and set over a medium-high heat. Ladle 1/4 cup (I use the measuring cup) of batter into the skillet. Tilt and rotate the skillet to evenly disburse the batter. Cook for about 30 seconds then using a cake spatula, flip the crepe over and cook for another 15 seconds. Invert onto a clean plate and repeat with the remaining batter to make 12 crepes in total and stacking them on top of each other.
4 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Warm the marinara sauce slightly. Add about 1/2 cup to the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish. On a clean cutting board lay out a crepe and fill with 1/2 cup of squash mixture. Roll up leaving the ends open and place in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining 11 crepes. Pour 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the top of the manicotti. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and cover tightly with foil. Bake until bubbling and hot, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes 6 Servings
- Manicotti can be made 1 day in advance and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before baking.
- Crepes can be made a day in advance also if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before assembly to prevent cracking.