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Manicotti Shopping Tips
Italian food is about simplicity and letting the ingredients shine. So make sure you get ingredients that are great quality and flavor. Farmers markets and specialty stores will have great produce and products. Just be sure to have some great olive oil.
Manicotti Cooking Tips
Unlike other highly regarded cuisines, Italian cooking is usually simple to make with many dishes having only 4 to 8 ingredients.Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.
Across the street from the arches of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, stands Arthur Avenue’s famed egg pasta and ravioli storefront with its name written in gold: Borgatti’s.
Inside Borgatti’s, black and white family photos line the walls. Bags of dried fettuccine, olive oil, and tomato cans fill the white shelves. Husband and wife, Chris and Joan Borgatti, attend to orders, always listening to the rumble of the machines as they churn out thin sheets of pasta in the back.
Unlike most of the Italians that settled in the Bronx’s Little Italy, the Borgatti family came from Northern Italy outside of Bologna. Five generations after nonna began making pasta, the dough recipe has remained unchanged since they opened the store in 1935.
Cook their delectable manicotti and marinara sauce as a family to repeat the fun they enjoy in the kitchen. Borgatti’s manicotti shells can be ordered online.
My best manicotti recipe
This all began, as so many good things do, with a call to Aunt Anna in Queens. It was Easter Sunday morning and she was in her kitchen preparing dinner. I was at home here in Maine.
“What are you cooking anyway?” I asked after we’d been chatting for quite some time. “You never mentioned.”
“Right now, my meatballs,” Anna said a bit distractedly. “The manicotti I made yesterday. I’m just taking them out of the refrigerator now.”
And for days and days these were the only words that I could hear. It had been a while since I’d made manicotti. It was time.
A quick text to my friends Laura and Bob netted a nice tin of fresh ricotta from the excellent Lioni Latticini in New Jersey—and I was off and running. Thanks to my aunt.
Thin crepes are the key to good manicotti, the thinner the better. That means the crepe mix has to be super light and so mixing it in a blender is best. (I’ve included the full list of ingredients at the end.) A super hot omelette pan doused in butter is the way to cook the crepes. I keep melted butter on the stovetop and apply it with a bristle brush before pouring out the mix for each crepe.
To make thin crepes you must barely cover the pan’s surface with the mixture. We’re not talking pancakes here, we’re talking just-thicker-than-paper type stuff. After the mix is set and drying flip it over with a spatula. If your pan is properly heated this won’t take long at all. (I pour the mix straight from the blender into the pan, by the way. That way I can add more milk to the mix as things thicken up, which they will.)
Here’s what the cooked side should look like. After flipping the crepe it only takes maybe 30 seconds to finish the other side.
This is about how thick you want your crepes to be. That’s a blue spatula I’m holding behind one of the crepes you can see the color coming through, right? Nice and thin!
These crepes can be piled on top of each other without sticking. And if you aren’t making the manicotti right away the crepes can be refrigerated for a couple days. I refrigerated these overnight, wrapped in a roll using wax paper.
This is a pretty traditional filling, made with fresh ricotta, fresh mozzarella and such (again, the full list of ingredients is below).
A simple fold from one side and then the other does the trick.
Lay a light dose of tomato sauce in a baking pan, then line the manicotti up, like so.
Add more sauce on top, cover in aluminum foil and throw into the oven, preheated to 375 degrees F. Remove the foil after 30 minutes and continue baking for another 15 minutes or so.
These manicotti are super light and very delicate—a real favorite around here, in fact.
The only thing that could have made them better this time would be to share them with the woman who put the idea into my head in the first place. Hopefully it won’t be too very long before we’re able to see each other again.
Makes at least two dozen manicotti, likely more than that
2 1/2 cups milk to start (more as needed)
Mix ingredients together in a blender until fully incorporated. It should be the consistency of cream, NOT pancake batter. Add milk and blend more along the way if the mix thickens, which it will.
2 lbs ricotta, preferably fresh
1/3 cup grated cheese (I use a blend of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino)
Pinch of nutmeg (though a couple pinches is better)
Empty ricotta into a large bowl. Grate the mozzarella into the same bowl. Add all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly. If very stiff add a little milk to soften a bit.
Freezer Meal Recipes: The Best Manicotti
I make this Manicotti for dinner guests when I’m looking to impress and it is an awesome dish to take to other families since you can make it ahead of time and even freeze it. Throw in a side of garlic bread or breadsticks and a salad or steamed broccoli and you’re set.
I have made the filling with cottage cheese before instead of ricotta and it still turns out great! But the ricotta does offer a richer flavor and helps the manicotti keep its shape better.
These noodles are perfect for manicotti. Great texture and easy to use.
Assembling the manicotti is pretty easy too. Just roll them up gently to avoid tearing the noodles.
If I know we won’t eat the full 9吉 pan of it, I split the recipe between two 8 pans and freeze one of them.
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 ⅓ cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup whole-wheat flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese, (20 ounces)
- ⅔ cup fine dry breadcrumbs
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup slivered fresh basil leaves
- 5 cups prepared marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, (1/2 ounce)
To make crespelle: Whisk egg whites in a medium bowl until frothy. Add water and salt whisk until blended. Gradually whisk in whole-wheat and all-purpose flours until the batter is smooth.
Heat a seasoned crepe pan over medium-high heat until a drop of water dances on the surface. Rub it with a paper towel dipped in a little oil before cooking each crepe. Ladle 2 tablespoons batter into the pan and tilt to coat the bottom evenly. (The crespella should be thin if the batter is too thick, stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons more water.) Cook until the underside is light golden, 15 to 30 seconds. Turn over and cook until the second side is golden, about 15 seconds longer. Slide the crespella onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, stacking the crespelle as they are cooked. (You should have about 18 crespelle.) Cover them loosely with plastic wrap and set aside.
To make filling and assemble manicotti: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Add ricotta, breadcrumbs, parsley and salt and mix well.
Stir basil into tomato sauce. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce in each of two 9-by-13-inch or similar large, shallow baking dishes. Spread 2 tablespoons of filling down the center of each crespella roll up and arrange in a row in the baking dishes. Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce over the filled crespelle. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 package (8 ounces) manicotti, cooked, drained, and cooled
- 2 containers (15 ounces each) part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1 ounce dried mushrooms such as shiitake (optional), soaked and drained (see cooks' note), and finely chopped (optional)
- 4 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
Cook pasta, drain, and cool. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together ricotta, eggs, thyme, oregano, and 1 cup Parmesan. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in mushrooms, if desired.
Using a plastic bag for filling, stuff cooled pasta shells (about 3 tablespoons ricotta mixture in each).
Coat bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 2 cups tomato sauce. Line up manicotti in baking dish, and cover with 2 cups sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
a D’Aguanno family recipe (printable recipe below) serves 8
- 8 oz (a packed cup) steamed escarole, endive (just use the green, outer leaves) or spinach, squeezed dry and chopped (measure after cooked)
- 2 1/2 cups (20 oz) good quality ricotta, drained
- 2 eggs
- 2 to 3 Tbsp grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup (5 ounces) shredded mozzarella
- (20-24 count) manicotti/cannelloni pasta tubes (preferably made in Italy, hint: buy cannelloni)
- pasta sauce (make this recipe)
- boiling water
Special equipment: espresso spoon, or other small spoon, 10″ x 15″ baking tray
Oven temperature: 375˚F (190˚C)
Make the Filling
Place the steamed escarole, endive or spinach into a large bowl, then add the ricotta, eggs, grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, salt, and pepper and mix well.
Next, toss in the shredded mozzarella.
Prepare the Sauce
You’ll already have the tomato sauce from my linked recipe, but here’s the trick to not boiling the pasta, adding water to the sauce. I say to use boiling water because I don’t want you using hot water from the tap it needs to be very hot. Put half of the sauce in a bowl (if it’s about 1 cup of sauce, add just under 1 cup of very hot/almost boiling water. You can make this watery sauce as you need it so you don’t end up watering down too much of the sauce.
Now we have the filling, shells, and sauce, and we’re ready to proceed.
Stuff the Manicotti Shells
Spread a generous amount of the watery sauce in the bottom of the pan, then start filling the tubes with the filling. As I said above, you can choose to use a piping bag without a tip, but it’s really easy to use a small spoon, too. Use both ends to fill the manicotti shells as it’s quicker than trying to push the filling all the way to the opposite end. Once full, place in the pan.
Be sure to place them generously spaced apart as they will grow and spread.
Finish the Dish and Bake the Pasta
Once all the manicotti are filled (you may need another small tray if all of the manicotti don’t fit (don’t attempt to squeeze them in). I put 4 in a separate little dish.
Make sure to cover all of the manicotti.
Add enough watery sauce so that it comes about halfway up the pasta shells. We need this much liquid since the pasta hasn’t been boiled (and absorbed the water when cooking). Let the shells rest for about half an hour before baking.
Cover and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the pasta is ready. You can remove the cover for the last 5 minutes if you like.
Add More Sauce and Serve
Before serving, add some heated pasta sauce (the original batch, not watered down) to the manicotti. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and add a sprig of parsley for color, and enjoy!
My friend Cynthia from What a Girl Eats just shared this butternut squash and sage lasagna today!
Best Manicotti Recipes - Recipes
2 lbs. of strained Ricotta
½ cup of shredded Fontina Cheese
½cup of shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 ½ qt. Sauce Freshly ground black Pepper
¼ cup freshly chopped Parsley
¼ cup of Vito and Joe's Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cooking Italian with Joe’s Italian Crepes or Manicotti shells
How to Prepare
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, eggs, mascarpone cheese, nutmeg, ¼ cup of Vito & Joe’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, all other remaining cheeses, salt, pepper and parsley.
Leave a small amount of each cheese for the topping – set aside.
Blend the ingredients all together with a wooden spoon to make sure all the ingredients are well incorporated. In a 13 x 9 baking dish, coat the bottom of the dish with a layer of sauce.
Enough to cover the entire bottom, but not so the manicotti are drowned in sauce.
In the center of each crepe, place the filling. a. Roll loosely.
Put each manicotti in the dish with the seam facing down.
Cover with additional sauce- coating each manicotti.
In a medium bowl, mix the cheese that was set aside earlier and cover the manicotti with the remaining cheese.
Here’s a Super-Traditional Manicotti Recipe
When I was growing up, every holiday meal in my house started with pasta. If we were lucky, it was lasagna made with fresh pasta. Or (if we were really lucky!) my father’s famous manicotti, which were somehow both unbelievably light and incredibly decadent. There was something about them that always felt special and celebratory.
The trick to manicotti is to make the crepes as thin as you can and not to overstuff or oversauce them. The idea is to create a balance of the three components: crepe, filling and sauce. This is a great dish for entertaining, but also good for a (slightly ambitious) family dinner. The whole recipe only takes about an hour from start to finish.
Here’s a Super-Traditional Manicotti Recipe
- Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Level of Difficulty: Easy
- Serving Size: 12 manicotti
For the crepes
- 4 eggs
- 6 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup flour
- Vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
For the sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 leaves basil
For the filling
- 1/2 pound ricotta
- 1 egg
- 1/2 pound mozzarella, shredded or grated
- 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
To make the crepes:
1. Make the crepe batter by whisking together the eggs, milk, water and salt. Add in the flour, little by little, continuing to whisk until all flour is incorporated and you have a smooth batter with no lumps.
2. Cover the batter and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make the sauce:
1. Add olive oil and garlic cloves to a pot and cook over low heat until the garlic starts to sizzle, about 1 minute. Add in tomatoes, salt and basil.
2. Cook over medium heat just until the sauce begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and reserve the sauce.
To make the manicotti:
1. Make the filling by adding the eggs to the ricotta and mixing. Fold in the Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, parsley and salt and mix well to fully incorporate. Refrigerate the mixture until you are ready to use it.
2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan over low heat. Grease the pan very lightly by adding a bit of oil to the hot pan, then wiping with a paper towel.
3. Add in a scant 1/4 cup of the crepe batter, working quickly to swirl the batter around the pan to create a thin, even layer.
4. Cook until the batter starts to appear dry around the edges, about 20-30 seconds, taking care not to let the crepe brown. Flip over and cook on the other side, about 20-30 seconds.
5. Repeat with the remaining batter, regreasing the pan after every third crepe. Stack the crepes on top of each other as they are completed.
6. Cover the bottom of a large baking dish (or two smaller baking dishes) with a thin, even layer of sauce.
7. Assemble the manicotti by putting 2 tablespoons of filling about 1 inch from the top edge of a crepe. Roll the crepe, starting from the top, and flatten lightly. Place the crepe, seam-side down, in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling. The manicotti should be placed in a single layer in the baking dish, not stacked on top of each other.
8. Spread the remaining sauce on top of the manicotti and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling lightly.
9. Remove the manicotti from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes before serving to allow the filling to set.
Enjoy some more great pasta with these recipes from Food Republic:
Reviews ( 23 )
I made half this recipe for 2 of us and I and it is SOOOO good!! It sounded good but not a wow like it turned out!! I used all hot sausage otherwise followed the recipe. After filling the shells, I added the remaining filling into the sauce. The sauce really make this special.
I have made this before and it was always a big hit.
Has anyone tried making it and freezing it before cooking?
Let me 1st preface this review with my wife and I or not amateurs when it comes to making dinner. The "15" min of prep is absolutely a lie. 2 people, it took us 45 min to get it into the oven to start baking for the 1st 20 min go round. The largest part is cooking the noodles, cooking the hamburger. Did the recipe not account for that. THEN. comes the stuffing. We did it by hand. The chunks of hamburger and sausage are too big along with the shredded cheese and tomatoes to fit through a piping bag. If you think following the recipe to "spoon" it into the shells, you obviously have never worked with manicotti!! Also, the recipe doesn't mention this, Drain off the juice from your tomatoes. If you don't, you end up with a "soup" like meat and tomato mixture. Thanks recipe for not mentioning that. That little misstep added to the already unrealistic prep time noted in the recipe. It is currently in for it's 20 min covered baking. I hope it tastes amazing to offset the pain the neck this prep has been. I have stuffed manicotti with various other cheeses and chicken, and never had an issue like this recipe called for. I guess lesson learned, everyone makes recipes out to be easier than they are in hopes people click on them. My suggestion, update your recipe, or take it down. You are misleading folks.
This is one fantastic, tasty recipe. Followed directions except i used half and half instead of the heavy cream and added a bit of garlic powder. Because of the prep time, I stuffed some of the shells, wrapped them up well and froze them. Easy to make the sauce, it's the stuffing the shells that takes time. Just one great recipe, Traci.
Despite the somewhat lengthy prep time, it's worth it. Always a favorite, glad I found it.
Every Thanksgiving, before the traditional turkey, my Italian-American family eats a pasta course: my mother’s manicotti. Many years ago, to bring the family closer together, she decided to invite my cousins over the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and enlist the kids in making the pasta cylinders with a filling of cheese and ham bound with egg. Nobody knows exactly when the first “manicotti night” was, but I remember that cracking an egg was still a daunting task for me. Nowadays, my four sons and niece and nephew do just about all the work, and I’ve watched Mom teach each of them how to avoid getting eggshells into the filling—and how to sneak a little extra cheese in at the last second so it’s just right.—Greg FerroManicotti