Friday, February 22, 2013

Three Cheese Manicotti

It's Friday.  It's the second Friday in Lent.  What's for dinner?  Good question.  It's 4pm here and this is what I am craving:  Three Cheese Manicotti.

Of course, I have none of the ingredients on hand, it's snowing (hasn't stopped all day) and I really don't feel like going to the grocery store.

However, I am going to blog about it :)  It's a pretty killer manicotti recipe   It's one of those recipes you file under "fancy".  Even if it really isn't fancy, it was definitely fancy when I first learned how to make it over 15 years ago.  It was the first from-scratch recipe that I really mastered.  It was always the recipe that you made when you wanted to impress someone.  As well, you can assemble it a day ahead of time - which is especially nice if you are short on time or plan to serve this to guests.  Just put it in the fridge and then bake the next day.  Serve this with a green salad and a nice red wine and voila!  Dinner.  Or, if you have hearty carnivores in your household - use the manicotti as an accompaniment to a good steak (that's how I prefer it).  Or, if you enjoy a meatless meal - have at it!  Enjoy.

Three Cheese Manicotti
3/4 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1-16oz Can Diced Tomatoes
1-8oz Can Tomato Sauce
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Small Bay Leaf
8 Manicotti Shells
2 Eggs, Beaten
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 and 1/2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano

For the sauce, in a medium saucepan, cook the onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown.  Add the undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon oregano, thyme and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.

Meanwhile, cook the manicotti shells according to package directions;  drain.  Rinse the shells in cold water.

For the filling, in a mixing bowl, stir together the beaten eggs, the ricotta cheese, the Parmesan cheese, parsley, a 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, a dash of pepper and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Spoon the filling into the manicotti shells.

Pour half of the tomato mixture into a 2 quart rectangular baking dish.  Arrange stuffed manicotti in the baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce over the shells.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top of the sauce.  If desired, cover and chill the manicotti for up to 1 day.

To serve, bake the stuffed manicotti covered in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35-45 minutes or until heated through.

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