Friday, March 11, 2011

Baked Manicotti

For all the years I've been cooking, I shied away from manicotti because I found the pasta tubes to be fussy and temperamental.  I'd rather make lasagna, pasta toss, or even stuffed shells than try to fill slippery pasta tubes that split in half partway through.  And then one day I found myself watching the America's Test Kitchen show, which is super dorky but always informative.  They suggested using softened lasagna noodles and making rolls.  It's so much easier!  You spend less time sticking your hands in boiling water!  There's no broken bits of pasta that you have to try to patch together and conceal in the bottom of the dish! It is a bit of a production because you need to spread everything out on the counter, but it really isn't too complicated, and you can clean up as you go.  

Baked Manicotti
inspired by America's Test Kitchen - You can sign up for a free subscription, which I would recommend

1-2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes (I used one and a half)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
1 Tablespoons fresh basil or 1-2 teaspoons dried

3 cups ricotta cheese
2-4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
4-8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 Tablespoons fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I used one 9 oz. package of Barilla lasagna noodles, which ended up being 17)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add in the garlic and pepper flakes.  After one minute, stir in tomatoes, salt and basil and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for at least 15 minutes, or until you're ready to construct the dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, mozzarella, salt, pepper, herbs, and half the parmesan.

Pour 1 inch of boiling water into the 9x13 baking dish you plan to use for baking the manicotti.  Add the lasagna noodles one at a time to the water, moving them slightly to prevent sticking.  Let them soak until soft enough to roll, about 5 minutes.

When the noodles are slightly softened, remove them from the water and place them in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel. I would recommend using tongs for this step instead of sticking your hands in recently boiling water.  Discard the water and dry the baking dish.
Pour about 1 1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, spread to cover evenly.
Spoon about 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture onto each noodle.  Roll into a tube shape and arrange in the baking dish seam side down.  

When all the rolls are in the dish, pour the remaining sauce over the top and cover with foil.  Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, remove the foil and preheat the broiler.  Top the manicotti with the remaining parmesan cheese and broil for 4 minutes until the top is lightly browned.  Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy the cheesy sauciness.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm impressed! This looks fantastic... I've never made manicotti but now I totally want to try!



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