Anyone’s who made manicotti knows the challenge of trying to stuff cooked tubular pasta without tearing it. If you fill uncooked tubes, then you face the problem of cooking them enough so they’re edible.
Not to worry! Once again America’s Test Kitchen came up with a better idea: use quick-cook lasagna noodles and roll them up. Brilliant!
Note: As Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t remind you to double or triple the marinara sauce and freeze it for future use. But try it first to be sure you like it.
MANICOTTI – makes 8
- 1 28-oz can whole tomatoes
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3/4 tsp salt, divided
- 8 no-boil lasagna noodles (this is the brand I use)
- 1 egg
- 1½ cups whole milk ricotta cheese
- 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 cup (2 oz) Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 T basil, chopped, divided
- 1 T Italian parsley, chopped
- 1/4 T ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.
First make a quick marinara sauce: Remove the stem end and any skin or imperfections from the tomatoes. Either chop them in a food processor or by hand. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes – sauté for 30 seconds to bloom. Add in the tomatoes and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to boil, then decrease heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Off-heat, stir in 1 T basil. Set aside. Place the uncooked noodles in a 8″ x 11″ (or there-abouts) casserole dish. Cover noodles with boiling water, separating them with a fork to make sure they don’t stick together. Let them soak for 5 minutes, moving them around now and then. Place noodles on a tea towel to dry. Discard water and dry pan.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg. Stir in the ricotta, mozzarella, 1/2 cup (1 oz) of the Parmesan, the remaining 1 T basil, parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper. Divide the filling evenly amongst the noodles (about 1/4 cup each). Spread filling, leaving a 1/2″ border at one of the short ends. Roll up, starting at end where the filling went all the way to the end. (The border is to allow room for the filling to spread as you roll them up.)Spread 3/4 cup of the marinara into the pan. Lay the manicotti, seam side down. Pour on remaining marinara, covering all exposed pasta with the sauce. Cover with lid or foil. Bake at 375º F for 40 minutes. Increase oven to 500º F. Sprinkle on remaining 1/2 cup (1 oz) Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Sprinkle on more basil, if desired.