This is a combination I fell in love with and have kept coming back to. It worked great with pasta, so I decided to turn it into Canelons.
Butternut Squash is the main ingredient and what defines the texture. It is first roasted and then it welcomes every other ingredient into the party. It’s smooth and borderline sweet.
Pancetta brings the perfect contrast. Small cubes of cured pork belly, cooked until crispy. Its savoury flavour stands up against the earthy sweetness of the pumpkin. It gives you a little touch of chewy, meaty saltiness and …well, makes everything better!
Then, the allium family top trio of leek, onion and garlic, cooked in the goodness left from the Cansalada and bringing that touch of sofregit.
A bunch of spinach leaves will gently keep all the pieces together.
And a hint of thyme will add a timid, herby hint to both the filling and the Béchamel.
Bonus Catalan touch: a glug of Vi Ranci. Or two!
What does “de Pagès” mean?
It’s what you’d find in the countryside. The simple, authentic, honest good stuff. The most humble vegetables and herbs, like the ones used in this recipe.
So I named these canelons after that idealised, almost pastoral image of a Casa de Pagès: with those dark and big kitchens and stone walls. And maybe hanging in a dry corner there’s some pork belly going through the curing process that elevates it to the Catalan favourite that is Cansalada de Pebre, which inspired this whole thing.
*melancholic sigh* I can totally see this vision. I can almost smell it. And hey, you can now taste it!
Nuts are a perfect extra garnish for this recipe!
I have tried it with walnuts and almonds. But my favourite combination is with PINE NUTS!
Pine nuts can easily burn, specially considering Canelons will be unfer the broiler. This would be a pity! So my tip is try soaking them in water and adding them at the very last minute. This will slow their toasting time.
Alternatively, just toast them in a dry pan and scatter them on top of the Canelons when serving.
If you wish to serve a Salad on the side, I suggest a mix of tender baby leaves and any of the nuts mentioned here.