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Butternut squash Cannelloni with Walnut-Sage Béchamel Sauce

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_Yes,-more-please!Its warm in the Lone Star State. We’re still waiting in Texas for some cool Autumn weather. We are still in the 80’s around here if you know what I mean. The only indication of Fall, besides the calendar, are the beautiful pumpkins, squashes, sweet potatoes, root vegetables and leafy greens at the markets.

This last Sunday, I found small butternut squash, acorn squash, and some white mini pumpkins. While some people are turning them into candle holders, I think they are the perfect individual size for dinner. They cook fast and leave no left-overs.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_the-vegetables

With this in mind, and the romantic idea of having a Fall season, I turned my oven on and thought about the most autumn dish I could bake, and this is what I came up with: Butternut Squash Cannelloni with a Walnut-Sage Bechamel sauce. Dreamy. This recipe has a long name and a short preparation. It is not hard to Imagine pasta sheets filled with delicate butternut squash, baby spinach, onions and goat cheese; rolled and smothered with a light creamy, nutty walnut-sage béchamel sauce, some mozzarella on top and.. Kazam! You have Fall on a plate. Nutty, creamy, warm, cheesy, the kind of dinner you want to snuggle with…In Texas we snuggle in shorts and t-shirts. Or you can fake it and watch a movie with maple trees, and turn your A/C to 64F grab a little blanket and for a few hours pretend is Fall….Not that we have done this…ehem, ehem.

Mean time we will patiently wait in shorts and T-shirts for the winter… maybe I should make Margaritas instead!… Enjoy the recipe.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_pasta-and-sauce-ingredients

Butternut squash Cannelloni with Walnut-Sage Bechamel Sauce.

Serves 4

12 cannelloni pasta tubes or 12 lasagna sheets.

For the filling:

1 small butternut squash peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups baby spinach or baby kale
1/2 medium onion small diced.
1 glug extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. Chèvre Goat cheese

For the sauce:

1/2 cup blanched and toasted walnuts
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
Zest 1/2 lemon
1-2 pinches nutmeg (freshly grated preferred )
2-3 Sage leaves whole*
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 cranks of fresh ground black pepper

Fresh mozzarella ( liberal amounts upon your preference)

3-4 Sage leaves to garnish

*Note: Sage its a powerful herb, I levee it whole to just perfume the sauce and leave it whole as garnish also enhances the dish and brings out delicious aromas. I prefer not to chop the sage on dishes like this, because it becomes a bit bitter, and is not very pleasant to bite into them, they will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the butternut squash. However, If you love sage and its a flavor you enjoy, feel free to adjust to your taste.

Preparation:

1. Using a little glug of olive oil Sauté the onions and butternut squash until tender. Finally add spinach salt, pepper and nutmeg; toss well then remove from stove and let it cool down. Add the goat cheese in crumbles once the filling is cool, toss gently.
2. Pre-cook your pasta sheets according the directions on your package. Remember to salt your water to flavor the pasta. Remove the sheets from boiling water 3-4 minutes before, according to directions. Shock them in iced water to stop cooking, and avoid to stick together.

Buternut-squash-Cannelloni_pasta-and-sauce-preparation
3. Make the sauce.  Start by blanching the walnuts in warm water for 5 minutes, this will eliminate any bitterness from the walnut skins. Drain the walnuts and toast them on a large skillet for a few minutes. Blend the walnuts with 1/2 cup of the milk until smooth. Then incorporate with the rest of the milk.

Walnuts
4. In the same large skillet, over medium heat, place the butter until melted and bubbly. Add the flour and whisk well to combine until no lumps and the buttered flour looks light golden-yellow in color. Start adding the walnut-milk in smaller additions and whisk at all times to avoid lumps, until the 2 cups of milk are incorporated. You might need to reduce the heat to medium low while whisking. After all the milk is incorporated season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and sage leaves. Bring too a slow simmer and remove from heat. The consistency should be of a light creamy thickness, if to thick, add more milk, to lose, place it back to the heat and whisk until desired consistency.
It should cover the back of a spoon see picture below.

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloni_how-to-make-bechamel-walnut-sage-sauce
3. Prepare a baking dish with butter, or a little olive oil, add a bit  of the sauce on the bottom.
4. Start by filling the cannelloni’s pasta tubes or by placing the filling on one end of the precooked pasta sheets and roll them up tightly. Proceed to do the same with each pasta sheet. Place the cannelloni rolls into your baking dish as you go.
5. Cover all the pasta rolls with the walnut-sage sauce, reserve some of the sauce.
6. Cover with mozzarella slices, then pour the remainder of the sauce, top with some sage leaves.

Butternut-Squash-Cannelloniwith-sage-and-walnut-sauce_assambling-the-rolls
7. Bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted and top is blistered.
8. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Note: Not too fond of rolling? make it into lasagna layers, you also can add some cooked ground turkey or sausage to the butternut -spinash filling and it will be equally delicious. I just love the way the Cannellonis portions out. Enjoy!

Butternut-squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_out-of-the-oven-

Butternut-squash-Cannelloni-with-Walnut-Sage-Sauce_Yes,-more-please!-

 Music Pairing: Autum Leaves – Miles Davis

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Swirly butternut squash and kale soup

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_Yes,-more-please!

Butternut squash is my favorite squash. Autumn has arrived and I could not wait for the cold to make this soup. This nutty winter squash has the creamiest texture and tastes like a delicate pumpkin with mild citrus aroma. In my opinion Butternut squash makes the velvetiest soup in the world!…..

Now, you know how I feel about vegetable creams or pureed soups.
I do not want my squash soup to taste of chicken therefore vegetable stock is my preference. This vegan soup enhances all the pure flavors of the kale and the butternut squash by roasting them and letting those flavors stand out. I roasted the squash and steamed the kale with coconut milk to empower their own flavors.

I love the fusion of flavors in soups, but for me there is nothing better that the awareness of the fusion. What do I mean by that? Well these two ingredients are in harmony but they do not mix until you take a spoonful in your mouth then you taste the delicious swirl and contrast in colors, textures, flavors, and even in temperature. The kale and coconut milk add an herbal note without being overwhelming. The velvety roasted butternut squash adds sweetness and evokes the Autumn season.

This swirly butternut squash and kale soup is fun to make its easy and it looks appetizingly gorgeous. Whether its lunch with you alone, your friends, or a family get-together this soup is easy to portion and delicious…and it happens to be vegan! Enjoy!

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_ingredients

Swirly butternut squash and kale soup

Serves 4 bears or 2 mom and pop bears..

For the Butternut squash soup:

1 medium Butternut squash cut into cubes
½ medium size yellow or white onion
1-2 glugs of mild extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cups Vegetable stock
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½-1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (start with 1/2 teaspoon taste and add more if you like… I love it with 1 whole teaspoon!)
1 pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Freshly black pepper to taste.

For the Kale swirl:

8 Curly-leaf kale leaves deveined.
¼ medium yellow or white onion
¾-1 cup coconut milk
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Toppings:

Roasted Walnuts roughly chopped
1-2 pinches Smoked paprika

Preparation Method:

Preheat oven at 450F
1. Peel and cut into small cubes the Butternut squash. Slice the onion.

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_peel-de-seed-cube
2. On a baking pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper, toss the Butternut squash, onions, salt pepper nutmeg and one glug of olive oil all in one layer. Roast in the oven at 425F for about 30-35 minutes, shake the pan every now and then, until the little cubes are fork tender, and toasty.
3. Remove pan from the oven, and in a medium size deep pot, add the roasted butternut squash, add the 4 cups of vegetable stock, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and puree with the help of an immersion blender, or use a regular blender.
4. Check for thickness and if needed add another cup of vegetable stock. This is up to your preference, however I like my soup with a lot of body, and therefore I usually use 4-5 cups. Feel free to add a little more if its too thick or to add some almond milk for an extra nutty flavor.
5. Let your soup warm up on a low low heat, and stir constantly.

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_roasted-butternut-squash

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_velvety-butternutsquash-soup
6. For the kale swirl: in a small pot place the leafy parts of the kale, discarding the main vein.
Add the coconut milk, roughly chopped piece of onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
7. Cover the pot over a slow simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the kale feels soft, and turns bright green. You can taste a little piece to check for doneness, you want it soft and cooked but not over cooked.
8. Remove from the stove and using an immersion blender to puree the kale mixture. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. The consistency should be creamy and light. It should look like a deep bright emerald green.

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_kale-swirl-soup
9. Roast the walnuts, sprinkle a little smoked paprika and salt.
10. Serve 2-3 ladles of the butternut squash on each bowl and then add the kale swirl. Sprinkle some roasted walnuts, and a pinch of smoked spanish paprika for best flavor. Enjoy!

Note: Remaining soup keeps well for 3-4 days and although it diminishes in flavor, extra portions can be frozen and stored for 30 days or so; this minimizes waste if you happen to make too much or have a desire for homemade soup next time you’re too busy to cook.

Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_swirl!Swirly-butternut-squash-and-kale-soup_ready-to-serve_Yes,-more-please!

Enjoy!

Music Pairing: For this recipe our dear friend Ana Ferper plays

a beautifully classic guitar melodie by  J.S Bach Allemande Suite No.1

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