I have to admit, I'm ridiculously excited about sharing this recipe on my blog. I'm bouncing a bit in my computer chair with glee as I type this. Hopefully, when I'm done, you'll be as excited to try this recipe as I am to tell you about it.
I love making manicotti. Why? Well, let me count the ways. First off, this recipe is great for dipping your toes into the world of fresh pasta. I remember that, as a beginner, the process of making traditional fresh pasta (the kneading, and rolling out, and cutting, and drying) seemed intimidating. However, these manicotti shells are made from a simple batter and cooked like a crepe. They are very easy. I promise. And, as an added bonus, because these manicotti shells are flat, unlike the tube-like ones from a box, they are easier to stuff with filling.
This manicotti is my "impress someone" dinner. It's a good recipe to pull out when having company. I made this for my mom's birthday luncheon last year, and it received rave reviews. Your guests will be so flattered that you took the time to make them pasta from scratch. Yet this whole dish can be pulled together in just 45 minutes. It'll be your little secret.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes in puree (like this)
- 6 leaves basil, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 large eggs
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. water
- pinch sea salt
- 1 c. whole milk ricotta
- 1-1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- additional chopped parsley for serving
2. In sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes, until garlic becomes fragrant. Add tomatoes and basil. Use a potato masher to crush tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring sauce to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer, covered, as you prepare the remaining components.
3. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Whisk in the flour. Add the water and then the salt. Whisk until batter is smooth and free of lumps.
4. Spray an 8-inch non-stick frying pan with a light coat of cooking spray or oil. Place frying pan on a burner set to medium heat, holding hand several inches above pan to test it's temperature. Once pan is hot, add 1/4 c. batter to it, swirling the batter around the bottom of the pan to coat evenly. Heat until batter firms and turns mostly opaque (the edges will start to curl upward a bit). Flip over to heat other side. The goal with making these shells is to cook them, but not brown them like you would a tortilla. Be sure not to leave on the heat too long; they're done as soon as they are firm on both sides. Stack finished pasta on a piece of aluminum foil. You should get 8 shells from one batch of batter.
5. In small mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 c. mozzarella, parmesan, and tablespoon fresh parsley. Season with the salt and pepper. If desired, thin with a bit of milk (this makes your ricotta mixture easier to spread).
6. Assemble the manicotti. Ladle 1/2 of the sauce into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Spoon 1/8 of the ricotta mixture into the middle of each of the pasta shells. Fold the sides of the shells over the ricotta. Place in the baking dish, seam up. Ladle sauce over top the manicotti. Fresh pasta won't get crunchy or dry out in the oven, like boxed pasta would, so top with as much or as little sauce as you'd like. Sprinkle 1 c. mozzarella on top.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 13-15 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Source: Cats and Casseroles original (with the caveat that although this recipe comes from no specific source it was certainly inspired by dozens of Italian cooks).