Make This Butternut Squash Manicotti Recipe From The Spicy Chef

This Italian classic gets a lighter makeover in Hockessin

Photo courtesy of Radwan Al-Haddad of The Spicy Chef

Butternut Squash Manicotti

Submitted by Radwan Al-Haddad, owner/chef, The Spicy Chef, Hockessin
Makes 2 servings

Dough ingredients (for manicotti shells):
½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons of puréed butternut squash (see below)
2 cups durum wheat flour (semolina)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt

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Filling ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked spinach
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butternut squash purée
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, shredded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 cloves fresh garlic
1 tablespoon dried chives
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
Marinara sauce of your choice

To make the purée: Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and place the squash cut side up on a cookie sheet on the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Using a toothpick, poke the squash to test for tenderness. The toothpick should penetrate the squash effortlessly. When done, remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack until the squash reaches room temperature. Peel the squash with a paring knife, then purée in a food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth.

To make the manicotti filling: Mash garlic with salt, then place all ingredients except marinara sauce in a medium-sized bowl and mix. Refrigerate until you are ready to roll out your dough. Add marinara sauce to an 8-inch or larger nonstick pot until the pot is about 40 percent full. Cover, and warm the sauce on low heat. Now you can begin making your pasta shells for the manicotti.

To make the pasta shells: Mix all of the shell ingredients until dough is firm, but slightly damp when you squeeze in your hand. It should feel a bit tough and damp, but not sticky. Cover and let rest 15 minutes at room temperature.

To assemble the manicotti: Divide the dough into portions a little smaller than a tennis ball. Roll out the dough balls with a rolling pin until they are just under 1/8-inch thick. The width of the dough should be 4 ½ inches, and the length will be 12 inches. Place a line of the filling near one end of the dough, then wrap the filling in your shell. Cut ends to make a cylinder, and set aside on a plate coated with extra-virgin olive oil. Continue process until all the shells have been made. When your sauce has started to simmer, place manicotti shells in pot and cover the surface of the sauce with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil. Cover pot, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Serve.

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