Take Two

17th February, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in What's On the Table?

Manicotti ai Crema di Zucca! This is a quick snap of what it looks like before it goes into the oven. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember that I wrote about a not quite successful version of this dish in a previous column, It Doesn’t Always Work Out. Since then, I’ve been working away at various approaches to the sauce, to the filling, to the overall presentation, and think I’ve finally nailed it down, at least for now. Recipes are never cast in iron around here, which is a source of joy to me, but of endless frustration to those who ask me to make something again, or give them the recipe. “Well, um, I’ve changed things a little since the last time you ate that.”

So, the main noise in tonight’s dinner was Manicotti ai Crema di Zucca. The way I make it today. I’ll write up the details and post it in the recipes pages soon – it’s a little too involved for the Asylum – but in the meanwhile…

Manicotti are stuffed with a filling of ricotta, asiago, sautéed chard (with a little garlic), and toasted pignolis, then sauced with a pumpkin cream that features some lovely flavors, spiced with Marrakesh Sunset, and enhanced with a splash of Marsala. (The chef was enhanced in a similar fashion.) This is topped with some grated Grana Padano, and baked, covered, for about 30 minutes. The dish is disrobed and exposed to the naked heat for a few minutes of browning, plated on a bit of reserved sauce, then finished with some fresh, chopped parsley. The rich, creamy sauce is delightful with the sweetness of the ricotta and tanginess of the asiago in the filling. All the flavors are there, and a nice interplay of textures, too. A little spice sneaks up from behind and says, “Gotcha,” and even that sprinkling of fresh parsley serves a purpose, adding a nice verdant note, and a little crispness.

Overall, I’d call this one a success.

2 Responses

  1. Ken Says:

    Your Marrakesh Sunset will rock almost any recipe. The layers of flavor are perfect for pumpkin. I used it with a pumpkin puree with crumbled goat cheese and eggplant croutons. Wow.

  2. glpease Says:

    Thanks, Ken! Your pumpkin purée sounds wonderful. Then again, almost anything with chevre is a good thing. Brilliant addition. Now, care to share your method for the egglplant croutons!