My mom’s manicotti was always terrific. She would mix up a large batch of crepe batter and then fill dozens of crepes with the lightest ricotta cheese mixture. We had a huge garden and she would have huge pots of fresh sauce simmering. When I close my eyes I can still taste all the flavors coming together.
Okay – back to reality. Do you know how much freaking time this whole process took? Really?!? It took hours and I don’t have that kind of time. I’m looking for shortcuts.
Depending on how fast you are, this recipe takes about 30 minutes of hands on time. Not bad for something that took mamma hours, huh?
- 2 jars of good quality sauce (I like sauce with a little texture)
- (By the way, this is shortcut #1)
- If you must make your own sauce, which I do, and you have fresh tomatoes, make it by roasting your tomatoes. Super fast and really really tasty. Here's the recipe. (A shortcut to make sauce using fresh tomatoes??? You betcha! Shortcut #2)
- 1 box of Barilla no boil lasagna (shortcut #3)
- 3 cups ricotta
- 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano (divided in half)
- 2 cups mozzarella (divided in half)
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp. fresh basil
- Prepare noodles.
- Fill a kettle with water and bring to a boil.
- Empty the lasagna noodles into a lasagne pan.
- When the water comes to a boil, pour it over the noodles.
- Use a fork to keep them from sticking and let them sit for about 5 minutes.
- Once they're pliable, take them out of the pan and let them dry out on a dish towel.
- I make the filling while the water is boiling and the noodles are softening. Preheat the oven to 375F.
- A box of Barilla noodles makes about 16 manicotti.
- With the long side of the pasta toward you, spread about ¼ cup of filling and roll.
- Place the rolled manicotti in the lasagne pan (emptied of water and pasta, of course!). Make sure a generous layer of sauce is in the pan first. This pasta will soak up a lot of sauce as it cooks.
- After the pan is full, place another generous layer of sauce on top, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove foil, spread the remaining cheese mixture on top and bake for another 15 minutes (or top brown using the broiler).
- That's it. Oh! One more thing - here's a freezing tip. If you are only cooking a half batch, or doubling the recipe, roll the uncooked manicotti in plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. Individually wrapped manicotti waiting for you when you want it - awesome!