Friday, June 29, 2012

Manicotti

Summer and hot cooked pasta dishes go together about as well as some of Elizabeth’s self-selected outfits.  I am no fashion maven but even I know that those two floral patterns don’t belong together.  Then again, she is 6 and with that smile, she can get away with a lot. 

Finding this recipe was based on the necessity to use the 15 oz tub of ricotta with a tablespoon gone for making the tartines.  I found this Giada Laurentis recipe and let me tell you, there is a reason why there are 508 positive reviews.

Crank down your AC and make a dish of manicotti!

Ingredients:
Manicotti
1.      4 teaspoons olive oil 
2.      1 medium onion, coarsely chopped, or onion powder
3.      1 pound ground beef
4.      Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5.      8 oz. package manicotti (about 14 in the box)
6.      15 oz. container whole-milk ricotta
7.      3 cups shredded mozzarella
8.      1 cup grated Parmesan
9.      2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
10.  2 garlic cloves, minced, or garlic powder
11.  3 cups marinara sauce (I like Ckassico Four Cheese)
12.  2 T butter, cut into pieces

In a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain excess fat, and cool.

Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm, about 4 to 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to a wax paper covered cookie sheet to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Brush 2 teaspoons of oil over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture (I rolled it into oval shapes so that it would fit into the manicotti and then stuffed from each end). Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

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