Thursday, March 13, 2008

Manicotti Molto Facile

That means "very easy manicotti" (I think). This was a super easy weeknight dinner, but impressive enough for company. I followed the basic technique from Cook's Illustrated's January 2007 issue, with a few minor modifications.

The time-saver and company-impresser is the ingenious use of no-boil lasagna sheets for the noodles. Using sheets instead of the traditional tubes accomplishes two things: you don't have to boil big floppy pasta tubes, and the sheets are really easy to fill - just spread them with the filling and roll them up.

This whole dish took no more than 20 minutes of hands-on time: perfect for a weeknight. The filling I used this time was a very simple ricotta and parmesan (with some shredded radicchio and chopped scallions stirred in). I think this would be great with a spinach filling with red sauce or a baked butternut squash and sage filling, topped with a bechamel.

Manicotti MF
  • 12 sheets of no-boil lasagna noodles (Barilla brand - 1 box)
  • 28 ounces pasta sauce (I used a marinara from Trader Joe's)
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for topping the casserole
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • herbs or seasoning of your choice
  • 1 egg
Put the noodles in a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour two inches of boiling water over them and soak them for 15 minutes (You will need to nudge them a little every now and then to make sure they don't stick together. If they do, just pull them apart gently.).

Stir together the ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella and other seasonings. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the egg.

Take the noodles out of the hot water and lay them flat in a single layer on dishtowels or paper towels. Spread an equal amount of filling on the bottom two-thirds of each sheet of pasta. Loosely roll the noodle up to enclose the filling.

Put one third of the pasta sauce into an oiled 9"x9" baking dish. Lay the tubes into the dish and cover them with the remaining sauce (you may not need all of the sauce). Sprinkle the top of the casserole with extra parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Let the dish rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Kitt said...

Yum! You could call it lasagna rolls, too.

I make an easy lasagna like this (photos here from last week's batch, with spinach, roasted butternut squash and meat) but I don't even bother with the no-boil noodles. I just assemble the whole thing the night before I want to bake it and the noodles soak in the sauce enough that you'd never know I hadn't boiled them first.

It's about 40 minutes of prep time, mainly because of peeling, dicing and roasting the squash. If I skipped that, it would be more like 20.

Sunday Cook said...

I've done something similar too with "regular" noodles. I do have to say that I prefer the texture of the no-boil noodles to the traditional noodle - to me, it tastes more like homemade pasta.

That said, I have had good luck with deCecco regular lasagna noodles as they are *very* thin.

Julia said...

I learned to make them with crépes (something like this), but then I didn't learn to make them from nonni.

I'm wondering about the fifteen minutes in boiling water - you pour boiling water into a baking dish and soak or the water is boiling while you soak?

Sunday Cook said...

Ah, Julia, very good question. Pour boiling water the noodles and leave them to soak off the heat. I'll clarify the recipe.

I have made a version with crepes as well. I am of the understanding that the rolls made with pasta are manicotti and the ones with crepes are canneloni. That said, manicotti seems to be th emore common term for either.

jj said...

Thanks! It's not always easy to find a no-boil lasanga noodle recipe and I love to use those when I can. This dish sounds wonderful!

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