The world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012. (Or possibly the following week… or at the end of the year… or in a few billion years…whatever). Old news, right? Well, like many of you, I went to an end of the world party (themed potluck!), and I really liked the dish I made, so I’m going to write about it – chances are someone has predicted the world will end this month, so really it’s still relevant.
There are two schools of thought for end of the world dishes. You either want food that is well-sealed and full of preservatives to feed the survivors of the apocalypse (canned food, MRE’s, various snack-cakes), or you want something really decadent because you may never eat again. I decided to go with the latter option as all the Twinkies were already gone from the shelves and, I don’t know if you noticed, I like to cook.
When I first arrived at the party there was no food (this may be a third apocalypse food school of thought). Then a few people volunteered to go gather supplies and came back with tons of junk food and obnoxiously large bottles of alcohol. As the night wore on more decadent food appeared. All in all it was a tasty way to wait for the end of the world. And since it didn’t actually come, I got to eat leftover manicotti for lunch the following day.
Adapted from Myra Kornfeld’s The Voluptuous Vegan
Since I adapted this from a vegan recipe you would expect it to be vegan, but I’ve played around with the sauce a lot, and adding cheese makes it much tastier. If you want to make it vegan, I’d suggest adding nutritional yeast.
The original recipe is for ravioli, which is fun to make. Using manicotti makes prepping the dish much simpler however. And don’t listen to all the propaganda – you do not need to pre-boil the shells. Just fill them, leave room for them to expand in the pan, and cover with plenty of sauce.
Homemade squash/pumpkin purée is tastier than canned – sweeter, and yet more earthy – and it’s not hard to do! I suggest roasting a large quantity and freezing the excess, then you’ll have it ready whenever you want it.
1 package (10 – 12) manicotti shells
2 medium winter squash or a baking pumpkin – about 3 cups cooked squash two 15 oz cans of pumpkin works as well.
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
salt and pepper
White Bean Sauce
3 15 oz cans navy or great northern beans
3 1/2 cups broth
1 Tbsp oil
2 onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh sage
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
If using fresh pumpkin or squash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes (until easily pierced with a fork). Remove from oven, scoop out the flesh, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Make the sauce. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant. Add the beans, broth, and herbs (tied together with cooking string). Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
In a large skillet make the manicotti filling. Over medium heat sauté the onions until they begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Add the chopped pecans and stir until lightly toasted, 3-4 minutes. Add the pumpkin/squash, stir in the sage and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the filling is heated through, then remove from heat.
Once the sauce is done simmering remove the whole herbs and blend (in batches) until smooth. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 350
Pour a thin layer of sauce into a large baking dish. Begin filling the manicotti – you do not need to pre-boil them. Use a butter knife to push the filling into the manicotti shells, trying to ensure that there are no empty spaces. Place into the pan, leaving plenty of space for them to expand. Cover with a generous layer of sauce. The sauce is what will cook the pasta, so don’t skimp. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.