Our friends host a pumpkin potluck party every year, and Cooler Kitchen was ready to knock everyone’s socks off this time around! We recently acquired Brandon’s Great Aunt’s recipe for fresh manicotti, a recipe which had originated from her Italian mother-in-law. Of course, that recipe called for red tomato sauce with no pumpkin to speak of, but I couldn’t help but wonder how glorious it might be to combine the pillowy goodness of fresh ricotta and home made manicotti crepes with a velvety pumpkin and goat cheese sauce. Luckily, my pumpkin dreams were realized!
I started with the fresh manicotti crepes. It was a lot like making very thin pancakes. At first I was hesitant that the crepes would be so delicate that I’d mess them up, but I promise that they actually solidify quickly and are pretty easy to make! I stacked them up on top of each other using paper towels to keep them from mushing together as they cooled.
Next came the luscious cheese filling, and to the classic recipe I added a little herbaceous flavor with a ton of chopped sage. I also simmered and mixed together a rich pumpkin cream sauce with goat chèvre and one whole can of pumpkin!
Stuffing and assembling these plump, soft pockets of heavenly joy filled my heart with incredible happiness.
I topped these babies with the rest of the pumpkin sauce and some more sage, then into the oven they went until they bubbled over with decadent cheesy goodness.
The manicotti was a huge hit at the pumpkin party, which was a certifiable pig out fest in every way. There was pumpkin pizza, miso glazed pumpkin, and pumpkin pierogis, not to mention pumpkin muffins, ice cream, and pumpkin seed toffee brittle for dessert. Most of the food, including the manicotti, was totally gone by the end of the celebration.
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
Ingredients For Cheese Filling
2 lbs. ricotta cheese
8 oz. mozzarella cheese (cut into 1/3 inch cubes)
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
Pumpkin Sauce Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 15oz. can of pumpkin puree
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1. Make the crepes. Mix flour, milk, water, salt, sugar and oil in a large bowl with an electric mixer or whisk. The batter should be light and mixed very well. If the batter seems very heavy and thick, add more water to the batter (but only a little at a time). Heat a small frying pan 5 or 6 inches in diameter to medium heat. Use butter to grease the frying pan (or a non-stick pan). If using the butter, before making each crepe swipe the stick of butter over the frying pan and then start. Use 1/4 cup of batter for each crepe. Cook crepes on each side until firm, about 1 minute per side. Lay paper towels strips between the crepes so they don’t stick together while cooling down.
2. Gently mix the ingredients for the cheese filling until well combined. Set aside.
3. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the cream, pumpkin puree, goat cheese, parmesan, and pumpkin pie spice, and simmer until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x13in baking dish, pour half of the sauce on the bottom of the dish.
5. Put about 3-4 tbs of cheese filling into each crepe. Fold over the sides of each crepe over the cheese filling so it’s like a little pocket. Place all the filled crepes in a row in the pan; you should be able to fit 8-10 crepes in the pan. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the manicotti.
6. Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes or until hot and the cheese is bubbling. Garnish with the rest of the sage. Serve hot.