Ingredients: FILLING: • 1 good-sized butternut squash (that will yield 2 1/2 cups cooked) flesh • 1/2 medium-sized white onion, chopped • 1 package of frozen spinach (300 g.) • 2 garlic cloves, minced • Salt and pepper to taste • 1 egg • Zest of 1 lemon • 13 cooked manicotti shells • 1/2 cup grated parmesan • 1/3 cup of grated asiago (or whatever you have handy - I used Swiss cheese) • 1 cup ricotta SAUCE: • 1/2 cup cooked, puréed squash • 4 T. unsalted butter • 1-1/2 tsp. dried sage OR 1 small package of fresh sage leaves • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce • 1/2 medium-sized onion, chopped • 1 cup chicken or turkey stock • 1/4 cup white wine • 1/4 cup cream • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place a large pot of water, salted, on stove and bring to a boil.
3. Prepare squash ahead of time if you can - cut lengthwise with skin still on, and seeds removed. Place cut side down in preheated oven and bake for about an hour or when the flesh is soft to a fork. Cool it slightly and scoop out pulp with a spoon. You need 2 cups for filling and 1/2 a cup for sauce. Pulp for filling should be mushed enough to be able to put inside the shells later.
4. Once water has boiled, cook the manicotti shells - about 5 or 6 at a time - until all dente (about 7-8 minutes). Drain and place aside to cool.
5. Meanwhile, chop the frozen spinach into small chunks and place in colander to thaw and drain.
6. Sauté finely chopped onion, sage and garlic in butter - set aside half the mixture for sauce and half goes into filling.
7. Add lemon zest, 1/2 the cooked onion-garlic mixture, grated parmesan, asiago and ricotta to butternut squash, along with 1 egg well-beaten, salt and pepper to taste.
8. Make sure spinach is drained and pressed as well as possible before adding to squash mixture. It should amount to about 1 cup of spinach.
9. For the sauce, heat up the remaining onion, garlic, and sage mixture and add the 1/2 cup of squash. Squash should be well puréed. Next add hot chicken, turkey or veggie stock. Keep it at a simmer and then add Worcestershire sauce, white wine and thick cream (either table or whip cream). It should reduce a little bit so that it is not too thin.
10. Stuff your cooked manicotti shells with mixture and place in a slightly greased or oiled casserole dish. Pour over your sauce and place in oven for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly and hot. Enjoy!