Though I don’t always have time for it, I love cooking meals from scratch. There’s something satisfying about creating a wonderfully tasty dish with simple ingredients. This week I’m going to show you how to make manicotti from scratch.
For the manicotti you’ll need:
1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (you can use mozzarella, an italian blend, or another white cheese)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup pesto (optional)
12 manicotti shells
For the sauce you’ll need:
1 jar pasta sauce (~645mL)
1 can crushed tomatoes (~600mL)
Oregano, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, celery seed, pinch of sugar
A bit of water (approx. 40mL)
1) Cook the manicotti shells and run them under cold water when cooked (I usually reduce the suggested cook time by 1-2 minutes to make them easier to work with).
2) Preheat the oven to 350F.
3) Spread about 3/4 cup of the pasta sauce/ homemade sauce (see tip) onto the bottom of a 13X9 pan (or you can use two smaller pans if you don’t have a large pan)
Tip: If you are making your own sauce instead, mix the crushed tomatoes with the spices to taste and thin it out with a little water if it’s too thick. You don’t have to use all the spices, and you can switch them out to customize the flavour. I don’t have measurements for this because I just eyeball the amount and taste it as I go. You don’t need to cook the sauce down because it will get cooked when it goes in the oven.
4) Mix the egg, cheeses, and pesto (see tip) in a bowl until well blended and spoon into a resealable plastic bag (I used a giant freezer bag for this, but you can use smaller bags for easier handling)
Tip: You don’t need to use pesto in the manicotti. You can leave it out, or substitute it with something else. I find chopped spinach also works quite well in this recipe.
5) Use scissors to cut a corner off the bag (to create a piping bag) and fill the cooked manicotti shells with the cheese mixture.
Tip: This may be tricky for the first few times. I find if you hold the shells securely in the middle they are less likely to split open. put the corner of the bag into the shell and keep on squeezing until you feel the bag being pushed back by the cheese. Remove the bag while squeezing (until the shell is full on the one side, and repeat on the other side. It does take some practice, but don’t get discouraged!
6) Place filled manicotti shells in the baking dish and top with remaining sauce. Make sure the shells are well covered in sauce so they don’t dry out in the oven.
7) Cover with foil and place in the oven for 40 minutes. Enjoy!