Homemade manicotti is one of the first Italian dishes that I learned how to make. At the time, it was a challenging dish to make. Well, making the shells was challenging anyway. I remember always having to throw away first few I would make. Nowadays though, I can turn out manicotti shells like it’s nobody’s business! In my family, manicotti is typically reserved for holidays and special occasions. But, with yesterday being 9/11, I wanted to make something special that reminded me of the people I love and of course, to share this recipe with all of you! Of all of my family recipes, this is the one I have really wanted to share! This recipe is so special to me because it always reminds me of good times around the table with my family and friends.
Ingredients for the shells:
– 2 eggs
– 1 1/2 cups milk
– 1 cup all-purpose flour
1. In a bowl, whisk milk and eggs. Add flour and mix. Batter will resemble a pancake batter that is thin enough to be poured into a pan. If your batter seems thick, add more milk. If it seems thin, add flour. It is okay if your batter has some lumps from the flour. Set aside.
2. With a non-stick pan that is approximately 6-7 inches in diameter, heat pan on medium heat. When pan is heated, add a small pat of butter. Use a heat resistant brush to spread butter evenly around the pan.
3. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the heated and buttered pan. Pick up the pan and swirl the batter around the pan so that it covers the base of the pan. You have to move quickly with this step! This can be a little tricky. You have to get the batter spread all around the pan before it starts really cooking. As you continue to cook each shell, you may find that your pan is getting too hot. If this is the case, remove pan from heat and wipe with a damp cloth in between each shell. You can also try to lower the heat.
Cook the shell for approximately 2 minutes and then using a fork, turn the shell over and cook it on the other side. Once the shell turns a light golden brown on each side, it is done! Remove the shell from the pan and put it onto some wax paper to cool. Now you are ready to start the next shell!
Here is what a finished shell looks like!!
The great thing about the shells is that you can make them ahead of time! If you make them more than a day ahead of time, I recommend freezing them. Make sure the shells are completely cooled before freezing. Place a piece of wax paper in between each shell and freeze! Whether you freeze or refrigerate the shells, make sure that they are at room temperature or slightly warmed before you try to roll them with the cheese. If you try to roll a cold shell, it WILL crack! This recipe should make you about 12 shells. Ok, now that you have your shells, you are ready to get rolling and make your manicotti!
Ingredients for the filling:
– 1 lb. ricotta cheese
– 2-3 handfuls of romano cheese
– 1/2 lb. mozarella cheese
– 2 eggs
– salt and pepper
– handful of finely chopped parsley/span>
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine cheeses. Fold in eggs. Add in about a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper. Mix in parsley.
2. In a baking dish, coat the bottom of the pan with tomato sauce. I made my favorite tomato sauce (you can also make your sauce ahead of time!). One shell at at time, add about 2-3 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the middle of the shell. Then wrap the shell. Put the filled shells into the baking dish seam side down. Once you are done, top the shells with more sauce and sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese!
3. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 5 more minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving! Then, Manga!!
Nom, Nom, Nom!!