When we were growing up, one of our family’s dinner favorites was a recipe for baked manicotti . That delicious cheese filling, stuffed inside a pasta crepe, covered in a savory pasta tomato sauce was so delicious, and a great comfort food, too. The recipe included instructions for making the pasta crepes to hold the cheese filling, too. But you don’t have to make your own crepes to enjoy manicotti.
One of our nephews and his lovely wife just had their second baby, so we wanted to make them a dinner for right after they got back home from the hospital so that they didn’t have to think about what to make for dinner one night – it would be all prepared for them! A big casserole dish of manicotti seemed perfect.
If you’ve never made homemade manicotti before, it really could not be easier, especially when you use the store bought manicotti shells (instead of making the homemade pasta crepes), which is what we did for this recipe.
For simplicity, we also used a jar sauce – a very flavorful, ready-made, organic tomato-basil pasta sauce.
(Makes 20 manicotti)
20 manicotti shells
3 25 oz. jars of pasta sauce
For the Filling
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
6 cups ricotta cheese
3 eggs, beaten
7 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Cook manicotti shells according to the directions on the box. After cooked, drain water off, and drizzle the manicotti, sparingly, with just enough olive oil to keep the shells from sticking together while cooling. Set aside to cool before filling with cheese mixture.
Preparing Cheese Filling
In large mixing bowl, place the ricotta, parmesan (3/4 cup), mozzarella cheeses, and the chopped parsley. Beat the 3 eggs in a separate bowl, and add to the cheeses. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly, just until blended. If you don’t use the filling right away, refrigerate until ready to use.
Preparing the Manicotti
Use large baking dishes (1- 9 x 13 typically holds 10 manicotti) or casseroles to bake the manicotti in the oven. Pour enough pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish to cover it. Place cheese filling in each manicotti shell – it is easier to use a smaller spoon for this, like a flatware teaspoon. Put a couple of heaping teaspoons of filling in one end of shell, turn, and fill from the other end (each shell will need about 4 to 5 heaping teaspoons to fill).
Line the manicotti in the dish side by side. When the dish is full, completely cover all of the shells with pasta sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil, and bake for 10 minutes more.
This baked manicotti may become a favorite comfort food for your family, and make great dinner time memories, as it has for us.