Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Mom's Stuffed Manicotti
In addition to the ingredients listed under the Meat Sauce and Cheese Stuffing, you will need:
1 box of manicotti shells (12-14 in a box)
1 cup or more of Mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (in addition to what you put in the cheese stuffing)
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook 12-14 manicotti noodles until just al dente. Rinse in cold water and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a clean flour sack towel. Set aside.
1 pound ground sirloin (90% lean)
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. dried basil, crushed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
12 oz can Contadina tomato paste (this brand is the best)
2 cups water (or if you like, 1 cup good red wine and 1 cup of water)
(add about 1 Tbsp brown sugar or raw sugar if you like your sauce a bit sweeter)
Brown ground sirloin, onion and garlic until onion is soft and meat is cooked. Add spices and allow to cook about a minute longer. Add tomato paste and water and stir until saucey. Let it come to a boil and then turn to a low simmer uncovered (or place a cover on cock-eyed to allow steam to escape), stirring occassionally. Simmer while preparing the rest of the ingredients or for at least a half hour.
3 cups or 1 1/2 pounds of fresh ricotta cheese
2/3 cup of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Combine all ingredients and stir until well mixed. Using a small spoon, fill the manicotti shells with cheese mixture. You can also cut the shells on one side, but filling them keeps the cheese inside the shells.
In a 13x9 inch glass dish, spoon enough meat sauce to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1/3 of the sauce. Place the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in a single layer. Top with remaining meat sauce. then generously sprinkle 1/2 cup to 1 cup of grated Romano or Parmesan cheese on top.**
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Serve with garlic toast or warm bread and a big salad. Makes a great meal for company!
**At this point you can freeze it if you want. (If you freeze it, be sure to thaw dish completely in the refrigerator before baking it.)