Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Savory Cannoli

One thing people like to do when they visit us here at Mercy Street is pick up some cannoli.  If you're not familiar with cannoli, they are an Italian dessert, in which a cookie-like tube is filled with a sweet ricotta filling.  You can read about them here.  The problem is, I am not a sweets person generally, and I don't enjoy cannoli the way Greg and others do.  When my parents were here, we stopped by a famous local bakery and I looked at all the offerings but didn't feel pulled to any of the cakes, cookies, etc.  Later, when everyone was crunching into their cannoli, I felt a little left out.

And so, my friends, I have reclaimed the cannoli for us savory folks.  It was actually a two-step savory intervention, because it all started when I decided to make the zucchini-ricotta cheesecake featured here.  It was a delicious way to use some farmer's market zucchini, but the problem was that it left me with some ingredients I don't use often and wasn't sure what to do with: fresh dill, ricotta, shallots and goat cheese.  I also had some zucchini and summer squash left.  Usually when I have odds and ends of veggies, we have an omelette night and clean out the veggie drawer, so that was my original plan for the zucchini.  But that left the problem of the dill and ricotta.  

An idea began percolating...and I have to say I was quite pleased with the results.  I decided that, instead of doing a traditional omelette, I would make very thin, crepe-like rounds of scrambled eggs, then fill them with a zucchini-ricotta filling and roll them up.  I chopped up some fresh dill to put in the egg mixture, and sprinkled the goat cheese crumbles on top.  All in all, it was quite delicious, although it left poor Greg with a big mess to clean up.

This recipe is much more delicate and labor-intensive than much of what I cook, but it was worth it for the feeling of glee at using things up rather than throwing them out.

(A few notes about the recipe: I used minimal oil, low-fat ricotta and some egg whites to make it as healthy as possible.  It still tasted very rich, and yielded 8 cannoli.)

Savory Cannoli
(makes 2 large servings)

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 zucchini or 1/2 zucchini and 1/2 summer squash, grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup skim ricotta

6 eggs (I removed the yolk from two to cut down on the overall cholesterol/calories)
1 tablespoon dill
goat cheese crumbles

Warm olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add garlic and shallots, stirring until they develop a nice aroma.  Add zucchini/squash.  Saute until the mixture is soft and tasty.  Remove from heat.  Strain off excess liquid.  Stir in salt and ricotta until blended.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork and stir in dill.  Pour a small amount of egg into a small frying pan coated with Pam or oil.  Turn pan so that the egg mixture coats the bottom, as you would with a crepe.  Flip over to other side and leave until the egg-crepe is just cooked on both sides.  Remove to a plate.  Repeat until egg mixture is finished.

Spoon the zucchini-ricotta filling onto the egg-crepes, and then roll them up so that they resemble cannoli.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.

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