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Pumpkin Cannelloni

This vegetarian dish uses thyme Parmesan crepes for the cannelloni dough. To make this dish dairy-free, substitute soy milk for the fat-free half-and-half or milk, delete the Parmesan cheese, substitute silken or mashed firm tofu for the ricotta cheese, and drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the top instead of browned butter.

Ingredients for the thyme Parmesan crepes:

1 large egg

1 1/8 cup fat-free half-and-half (low-fat milk or whole milk can be substituted)

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup unbleached white flour

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (you can turn shredded parmesan into grated by running through a food processor)

1 teaspoon French thyme, dried

Ingredients for the pumpkin filling:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1.5 cups canned pumpkin (about one, 15-ounce can)

2/3 cup part-skim or whole-milk ricotta

Ingredients for the topping:

1/3 to 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons whipped butter, salted

2 tablespoons sliced or chopped fresh sage, packed

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 7 X 11-inch baking dish with canola cooking spray.
  2. In large mixing bowl, blender, or food processor, combine the egg with the fat-free half-and-half or milk. Add in the whole-wheat and white flours and continue to blend until the batter is smooth.
  3. Stir the Parmesan and thyme into the batter with a whisk or spoon.
  4. Place a 6-inch crepe pan or 8-inch nonstick frying pan over medium heat. When hot, coat with canola cooking spray. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and tilt pan to cover the bottom with the batter. When edges dry and start to pull away from the pan, turn the crepe over to cook the other side (about 30 seconds).
  5. Remove crepe to plate and repeat with remaining batter. When all the crepes are cooked, continue with the recipe.
  6. To make filling, heat olive oil in nonstick medium saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in onions and sauté until golden (about 3 minutes). Turn off heat and stir in brown sugar. Once brown sugar has liquefied somewhat, stir in the pumpkin and ricotta cheese.
  7. Lay one crepe on plate and spread a slightly rounded 1/4 cup of pumpkin filling down the center. Roll the crepe into a tube and place in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining filling and crepes -- there should be enough filling to make 8 crepes. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese over the top of the crepes, cover dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes more.
  8. Once crepes are baking for the final 10 minutes, add whipped butter to a small nonstick saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the butter has foamed up and then died back down. The butter will be a golden color with dark brown sediment at the bottom, and it will have a caramel-like fragrance. Turn off heat and stir in the sage.
  9. When the cannelloni has finished baking, drizzle the browned butter with sage evenly over the cannelloni in the dish and serve.

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