I recently received an e-mail from loyal reader Judy asking if I had a good recipe for manicotti. Having no manicotti recipe, good or otherwise, got me thinking it was time to put one together.
For some reason, this also started me thinking about lasagna, and thus evolved this week’s recipe: Lasagna-Inspired Double-Stuffed Manicotti. The idea is simple: prepare manicotti pasta that’s a bit longer than normal. After you place your cheese filling and roll the pasta around it, spread seasoned meat filling over the remaining portion of the pasta, and continue to roll that around the cheese filled part. This creates a double-rolled manicotti with cheese in the inner roll and seasoned meat in the outer roll. Top it with sauce and some mozzarella, bake, and the result is simply delizioso!
Some Cook’s Notes before we begin.
- The recipe uses hand-rolled pasta from scratch. Don’t be put off; it’s actually pretty easy. (I also used a wood rolling pin on a wood cutting board to roll the dough, which gives the finished pasta a slightly rougher texture than you'd get using a pasta machine; that roughness really holds the sauce.) Many people use store-bought manicotti shells, store-bought lasagna strips, or crepes made from a thinner pasta batter for their manicotti. Because this recipe has the pasta being rolled over twice, store-bought manicotti shells just won’t work. Either of the other two ways should be fine if you decide not to make your own pasta dough.
- The meat filling is an easy home-made turkey sausage made from plain ground turkey and a spice combination from a wonderful Italian Sausage recipe published by Michelle Gambel on allrecipes.com. (If you'd like to check it out – and I recommend you do - here’s the link: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-sweet-italian-sausage-mild-or-hot/)
- For the sauce, you can either use a good store-bought one or make your own, using your favorite recipe or, if you like, the easy no-cook sauce featured here a while back (http://kissthecook-ben.blogspot.com/2011/02/easy-no-cook-tomato-sauce.html).
This recipe makes 8 large manicotti. That translates to 8 normal human portions, or 4 big-eater portions.
First, let’s make the pasta:
To roast the red peppers:
Place the peppers directly on the stove burner. Give them as much flame as you can without having the flame touch the pepper. As each side blackens, use tongs to turn the pepper till all sides are blackened. When the peppers have blackened on all sides, wrap them in foil and let them steam themselves until cool enough to handle, about 20 – 30 minutes.
To make the meat filling:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine 1-1/2 pounds of ground turkey and the following: 1-1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar; ½ tablespoon salt; ½ tablespoon fresh ground black pepper; 2 teaspoons dried parsley; ½ tablespoon garlic powder; ½ tablespoon onion powder; ½ tablespoon dried basil; 1 teaspoon paprika; 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (for medium-hot sausage; more or less to taste); 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed; a pinch of brown sugar; a pinch of dried oregano; and a pinch of dried thyme.
To make the cheese filling:
To prepare the manicotti:
Lightly brush a 13” x 9” baking dish with olive oil, and spread just enough marinara sauce inside to cover the bottom, about ½ cup.
Cut the pasta dough into eight pieces. Repeat the steps below for each of the pieces. (Keep unused dough wrapped in the plastic to prevent drying out.)
- Repeat the above steps for all the pasta pieces, placing each in the baking pan as they are finished.
When all the rolled pasta pieces are in the baking dish, cover with 2 cups of marinara sauce and 8 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese.
Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Add a nice dry Italian red wine and you’ve got yourself a fresh-made meal that everyone will love. Buon appétito!
For a cookbook-style copy of the recipe in .pdf format, just click here!
Please visit again next week for another home-made recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)