Monday, August 30, 2010

Manicotti Madness

I've been cooking Manicotti a lot recently...and thanks to America's Test Kitchen it's not as difficult as I imagined. The hardest thing was always stuffing the tubes with filling, any technique I tried (spoons, piping bags, plastic bags with the corners cut off) always failed and ended in a mess. America's Test Kitchen to the rescue!

Lightly saute some garlic and red pepper flakes in some olive oil. (you can also add 1lb Italian sausage and brown it too if you so desire) Add 2 28oz cans of chopped tomatoes that you have blitzed in the food processor and a little salt and then lightly simmer for 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes is up, take the sauce off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil.

Meanwhile put 16 no boil lasagna noodles (preferably Barilla) in an 9x13 pan and soak them in boiling water for 5 minutes. I recommend spraying each layer of noodles lightly with Pam to stop them sticking.
After 5 minutes, take them out and spread them around the kitchen on paper towels to drain. Having lots of counter space really helps here :)

The filling is 3 cups ricotta, 4 oz grated Parmesan, 8 oz shredded mozzarella, 2 lightly beaten eggs, a little black pepper, salt, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons of chopped basil all mixed well together.

Taking one noodle at a time, cover 3/4 of the noodle with about 1/4 cup of filling and then roll up from the filled edge up. Here is where a picture says a thousand words...

Partially rolled up...

The uncovered noodle will seal against the rest to hold it closed. Place 1 1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of the pan and then put in the 16 Manicotti.

Cover all of the Manicotti with the remaining sauce, making sure all of the pasta is covered.

Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and then sprinkle 1 cup of Parmesan over the top and then place under the broiler until brown (about 4-6 minutes).

Cool for about 15 minutes so nobody burns themselves, and then serve.


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