Sunday, November 14, 2010


Manicotti and lasagna are two of the most popular oven baked New York Italian entrees.  The flavors are simple.  Good cheese and good tomato sauce.  Manicotti is usually made with crepelli instead of a pasta shell.  The crepelli shell is a simple basic crepe.
     Marinara Sauce Recipe:  Measure a proportion of 20% olive oil to the total amount of the canned imported Italian peeled, seeded, tomato filets in there own juices.  (For a 28 ounce can of Italian tomatoes, the amount of olive oil should about 5 1/2 ounces.)
     Heat the olive oil in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 8 thin sliced garlic cloves.
     Let the garlic fry in the oil till it cooks to a light golden brown color.
     Squash the canned imported Italian plum tomatoes by hand in a mixing bowl.
     Immediately add the tomatoes to the garlic and oil.
     Add a generous handful of whole fresh basil leaves.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Bring the sauce to a slight boil.  Don not over heat this sauce! 
     Reduce the heat to medium low so the sauce cooks with a gentle slight bubbling simmer.
     Stir the oil into the sauce once every five minutes.
     Cook the marinara for almost 45 minutes till the tomato juices have reduced and the sauce becomes a light medium thick consistency.
     Stir in a small handful of very finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley.
     Keep the sauce warm.
     Crepelli Recipe:  Mix 2 eggs, an equal amount of flour, sea salt and a splash of milk together in a mixing to form a thin crepe batter.  The batter should be thin and it should be able to coat the back of a spoon. 
     Heat a non stick saute pan over medium heat. 
     Brush the pan with olive oil and pour enough batter in the pan to make a crepe. 
     Rock and tilt the pan so the crepe becomes an even round shape. 
     After the crepe becomes firm, flip the crepe with a rubber spatula. 
     Slide the crepe onto a counter top when it is done cooking.  Repeat these steps to make as many crepes as needed.  The crepelli should be "white" with no brown color.
     Manicotti Recipe:  Place 8 ounces of ricotta cheese into a mixing bowl.
     Add a whisked egg.
     Add a few pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
     Add a handful of grated mozzarella cheese.
     Add a small handful of grated romano cheese.
     Add a small handful of grated parmesan cheese. 
     Stir the cheese stuffing ingredients together.  (Never add salt or pepper to a manicotti 3 cheese mixture.  Salt and pepper will change the texture and mask the flavors of the cheese!)  
     Spoon some of the 3 cheese filling across a crepe. 
     Roll the crepe into a manicotti tube shape. 
     Trim the ends so the manicotti are the same length and the cheese is flush with the end of the tubes. 
     Place a little bit of marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking pan or on a casserole dish.   
     Set the manicotti on top of the sauce. 
     Bake the manicotti in a 350 degree oven till the cheese stuffing becomes warm. 
     Remove the baking dish from the oven. 
     Spoon some more marinara sauce over the manicotti. 
     Sprinkle some grated mozzarella cheese over the manicotti. 
     Place the manicotti back in the oven till the cheese melts and it only is slightly browned. 
     Use a spatula to set the manicotti on a plate or just serve in the casserole dish. 
     Sprinkle a little bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese over the manicotti and garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.
     Be careful when picking up manicotti with a spatula.  It is easy for the cheese stuffing to leak out.  This is a simple and delicious recipe that only takes about thirty minutes to make if the tomato sauce is made ahead of time.  I like using a good marinara for manicotti rather than a salsa pomodoro (tomato sauce) because the bright flavor of a marinara goes well with the cheese.  This manicotti recipe is simply delicious!  The 2006 French Moulin A Vent Beaujolais table wine is perfect with manicotti.  Ciao Baby! ...  Shawna

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