Baked Manicotti with Cheese Filling

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I don’t remember where I got this recipe.  It’s been a family favorite for many years. What I like best about this recipe is the fresh made noodles.  This is not a difficult recipe to make, it just makes time.  Don’t be intimidated, jump in with both feet and you won’t be disappointed, and you’ll never used store bought manicotti noodles again.  This makes about 12 servings. ( This is my favorite tomato sauce recipe)

Sauce:

1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 can (2lb 3 oz) Italian tomatoes, undrained

2 cans (6oz) tomato paste

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1Tbsp salt

1Tbsp sugar

2 tsp dried oregano leaves

2 tsp dried basil leaves

1/4 tsp pepper

1 1/2 cups water

Manicotti:

6 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups water

Filling:

2 lbs ricotta cheese

8 oz mozzarella cheese, diced

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 Tbsp chopped parsley

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping

1. Make sauce:  In hot oil in 5-quart dutch oven, saute onion and garlic, until golden, about 5 minutes. Mix in rest of sauce ingredients , mashing tomatoes with fork.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer sauce, covered and stirring occasionally , 1 hour.

2. Make manicotti: In a medium bowl, combine 6 eggs, the flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 cups water; with electric mixer, beat just until smooth.  Let stand 1/2 hour or longer.  Slowly heat an 8-inch skillet/saute pan.(see note). pour in 3 Tbsp of batter, rotating the pan quickly to spread batter evenly over bottom. Cook over medium heat until top is dry but bottom is not brown.  ( This step takes a little practice. Watch the top! as soon as it appears dry and not shinny it’s done.) Turn out on a wire rack to cool. Continue cooking until all the batter is used.  As the manicotti cools, stack them with waxed paper between.

3. Preheat oven to 350.

4. Make filling: In large bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1/3 cup Parmesan, the eggs, salt, pepper and parsley. Beat with a wooden spoon to blend well.

5. Make manicotti:  Spoon 1 1/2 cups of sauce into each of two 12x8x2 inch baking dishes. ( I usually use one larger dish) Spread about 1/4 cup filling down the center of each manicotti and roll up.  Place manicotti in dish seam side down in single layer, top with a little more sauce and add another layer. ( I found it was better to add a little sauce between layers of manicotti.)  Cover with remaining sauce. and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered, 1/2 hour or until bubbly.  Each casserole makes 6 servings.

NOTE: Use a non stick skillet to cook noodles or you’ll need to oil the pan from time to time.  I found even using a non-stick pan I need to oil from time to time.  The manicotti should just slide out of the pan on to the cooling racks.

To Freeze: You can split the recipe to make small packages of manicotti.  Line a baking dish with a large piece of foil; assemble as directed. Fold foil over to seal and freeze in dish.   When frozen, remove from dish.  To serve; unwrap, place in baking dish and let stand 1 hour to thaw.  Bake uncovered, 1 hour in 350 oven  until bubbly.

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