Monday, October 11, 2010

Manicotti

Manicotti has to be one of my favorite pasta dishes ever! And this one is the best homemade one I have ever had. I have made a couple and hated them so I decided that I would just give up and I did for a while, until I came across this recipe. I decided to give it ONE more try, and boy I am glad I did! This recipe is so yummy! It is adapted from My Kitchen Cafe.

Manicotti
(6-8 servings)

Tomato Sauce

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes, in juice (I like petite diced)
1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/2 t salt
2 t dried basil or 1 t fresh, chopped

Cheese Filling and Pasta

3 cups ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 T chopped fresh parsley (I like flat leaf/Italian)
2 t chopped fresh basil
16 lasagna noodles, large shells or manicotti shells

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large saucepan heat oil. Add garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 t salt and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, eggs, salt , pepper and herbs.  Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to box directions.  I loved using lasagna noodles, they were easy to use and gave a cute ruffle to the edge of the manicotti.

Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Fill noodles.  If using lasagna noodles, lay them on a clean dish towel with the short side facing you.  Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on the bottom 3/4 of the noodle, leaving the top 1/4 exposed.  Roll the noodle starting with the edge closest to you.  Place into the pan.  Repeat with the remaining noodles.  Put 8 filled noodles in each row creating 2 rows in your pan.  Pour the rest of the sauce evenly over the top of the noodles, making sure the noodles are covered.

 Cover the manicotti with foil.  Bake for about 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.  Remove foil and top with the other 1 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Cook uncovered for 6-7 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. The manicotti can be prepared up until the baking step then covered with parchment paper and then foil and stored in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.  Thaw before cooking.  To bake, remove parchment, replace foil and increase the cooking time to 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours.  


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