Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lasagna-Inspired Double-Stuffed Manicotti

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.

This recipe makes 8 large manicotti. That translates to 8 normal human portions, or 4 big-eater portions.

First, let’s make the pasta:

In a large bowl combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon dried parsley.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Put 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 3 egg-substitute eggs into the well and whisk the wet ingredients together.

After the wet ingredients are mixed, gradually stir in the flour mixture until a dough forms.

Knead for about five minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let rest while you prepare the remaining items, but not less than 20 minutes.

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.

Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to remove the blackened outside skins. Dice the peppers and set aside.

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.

Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add two cloves of chopped garlic and 1 medium diced onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add the turkey mixture and cook until it is browned.

Add 6 ounces of tomato paste and roasted red peppers for about the last minute of cooking.

To make the cheese filling:

In a bowl, add 2 cups of ricotta cheese and 2 egg-substitute eggs, and mix till combined. Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, and 1-1/2 cups of grated parmesan.
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.)
  • On a well-floured surface, roll on piece a rectangle about 1/16” and as close to 6”x 9” as you can manage. (The dimensions won’t be exact and it won’t be a perfect rectangle; it’s ok.)
  • About 2” from one of the short edges, put about ¼ cup of the cheese mixture.

  • Fold the 2” piece over the cheese, and roll slightly to enclose it completely, leaving a little more than half of the pasta piece still unrolled.

  • Put some of the meat mixture (1/3 – ½ cup) on the unrolled portion of the pasta, enough to cover it while leaving some uncovered pasta at the far end.

  • Carefully roll the cheese-filled portion over it until it is enclosed by the meat-filled portion.

  • 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.

Remove the manicotti from the oven, sprinkle the top with dried parsley, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Add a nice dry Italian red wine and you’ve got yourself a fresh-made meal that everyone will love. Buon appĂ©tito!

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. ;-)

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