Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baked Manicotti with Cheese Filling

The word manicotti means "little muffs", and it is a Southern Italian favorite. Usually, here in this country, the dish is made with packaged manicotti shells, but with this recipe you make your own.


1/3 cup olive oil or salad oil
1-1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 (2 pound - 3-ounce) can Italian tomatoes, undrained
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper


6 eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt


2 pounds Ricotta cheese
1 (8-ounce) package mozzarella cheese, diced
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

MAKE SAUCEIn hot oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven, sauté onion and garlic 5 minutes. Mix in rest of sauce ingredients and 1-1/2 cups water, mashing tomatoes with fork. Bring to boiling, and reduce heat. Simmer mixture, covered and stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

MAKE MANICOTTI - In a medium bowl, combine 6 eggs, the flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1-1/2 cup water. With electric mixer, beat just until smooth. Let stand 1/2 hour or longer.

Slowly heat an 8-inch skillet*. Pour in 3 tablespoons batter, rotating the skillet quickly to spread batter evenly over bottom. Cook over medium heat until top is dry but bottom is not brown.

Turn out on a wire rack to cool. Continue cooking until all the batter is used. As the manicotti cool, stack them with waxed paper between them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

MAKE FILLING - In large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, the eggs, salt, pepper, and parsley; beat with a wooden spoon to blend well.

Spread about 1/4 cup filling down the center of each manicotti, and roll up.

Spoon 1-1/2 cups sauce into each of two 12 x 8 x 2-inch baking dishes. Place 8 rolled manicotti, seam side down, in single layer; top with 5 more. Cover with 1 cup sauce; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, 1/2 hour, or until bubbly.

Makes two (12 x 8 x 2-inch) Manicotti

NOTES - *If not using a nonstick skillet, brush skillet lightly with butter for each manicotti.

Beat batter for shells just until well mixed; it shouldn't be frothy. Let stand 1/2 hour or so before using - or even overnight in the refrigerator.

You can make shells and sauce a day in advance, and refrigerate. Make one and freeze one.

TO FREEZE - Line baking dish with a large piece of foil; assemble as directed. Fold foil over to seal, and freeze in dish. When frozen, remove dish. TO SERVE: - Unwrap; place in baking dish, and let stand for 1 hour to thaw. Bake, covered, 1 hour in a 350 degree oven.