Sunday, May 26, 2013

Delicious Homemade Manicotti

All these year I thought that Manicotti was made using those dried pasta tubes they sell at the grocery store. Oh brother, was I ever wrong! After watching an episode of My Grandmother's Ravioli on the Cooking Channel was I ever schooled. This particular episode focused on 
Tom and Mary Napolitano. They are a cute little Italian couple who had been married for 60 years and shared two amazing recipes. Mary Napolitano taught the host how to make a delicious homemade Manicotti. After watching the show, I immediately ran to the kitchen to begin making this for dinner!

The crepes make the manicotti so tender....way better than the dried pasta tubes folks! Now that I have been properly educated about what "real" manicotti is and I will never go back! These manicotti are immersed in a savory sausage tomato sauce and stuffed with a cheesy ricotta filling...A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

The recipe looks like a lot of work, but it's really not because you can make the crepes and the sauce a day ahead of time. Just make sure to seal  up the crepes in a ziplock bag in order to get all of the air out! if you make the crepes ahead of time, you will need to microwave them for approximately one minute to make them more pliable. Just be sure to open the bag a little to let the steam out. 

On a side not, I normally double the crepe recipe and to half of the recipe I add a little powdered sugar and make them for breakfast. I cook the remaining crepes for dinner that night. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do! 

Happy Cooking,
Miranda


Manicotti Crepes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
*1-1 1/2 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt



*Start with 1 cup and add up to 1/2 cup to keep batter thin

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and egg. Gradually add the milk and stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the salt and beat until the batter is smooth. 




2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Pour or scoop the batter into the pan, using approximately 2 to 4 tablespoons for each crepe. Tilt the pan in a circular motion so that the batter coats the bottom of the pan evenly. Cook the crepe until the bottom is a light brown, about 2 minutes. Loosen the crepe with a rubber spatula, flip it over and cook the other side. Repeat this process with the rest of the batter. Stack finished crepes on a plate and set crepes aside.



Filling:

2 lb container of part skim Ricotta
2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 large egg
salt and pepper to taste


Sauce:

4 cloves garlic

1 large white onion, diced small
1 pound lean ground pork or turkey Italian sausage

32 ounces of San Marzano tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup marinara sauce
3 tbsp dried parsley
4 dried bay leaves
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dill
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp sugar
olive oil

Directions:

1. Mix ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper. Taste. Adjust seasoning according to taste and then stir in one egg. 



2. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and lightly saute until the onions are translucent. Remove this mixture from the pot and set it aside. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil and the ground meat to the pot. Cook this until the meat is browned, and then add in the tomatoes and marinara sauce. Bring this to a boil and then let it simmer, allowing the sauce to reduce for 40 to 45 minutes. Lastly, add the garlic and onion mixture back to the pot and add the parsley, bay leaves, oregano, basil, dill, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and sugar. Cook the sauce another 20 minutes. Set it aside. 


3. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.



4. Lay crepe on flat surface. Place about 1-2 tablespoons of ricotta into the center of crepe and spread out to edges. Loosely roll (do not roll them tightly) and place in a large prepared baking dish.




5. Spread a layer of sauce onto a baking pan. Lay manicotti side by side and arrange manicotti until the pan is filled. Add another layer of sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.


6. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes and sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Manicotti can be frozen. Arrange rolled crepes on a wax paper lined pan and freeze for about 1 hour. Take out of freezer and put the frozen manicotti in a freezer bag between layers of wax paper. Store in freezer until ready to use. Let defrost and then cover with sauce and cheese and bake when ready.

Recipe adapted from: www.cookingchanneltv.com