Vote for Manicotti!
Your nugget of nutritional information for this post:
This dish has so much good-for-you stuff, it's hard to focus on just one benefit it provides so I'll skip the obvious, and showcase pasta this go 'round. Yes, the much maligned noodle is front row center, kicking myth & taking names in its bid for gustatory redemption.
Just as a car needs gas to get its motor running, your body needs glucose to get its gear into fourth, and pasta provides that glucose in time release spurts. Sure, you can try to burn fat deposits instead, but that won't give you the ready, quality energy carbs will, nor will the calories assimilated from proteins. One caveat: it takes a while for your body to break down complex carbohydrates, so it's best ingested the night before the big event.
Recipe in Rebus:
Cook Time assumes marinara sauce is ready
4 cups marinara
15 oz. ricotta
2 egg - yolks only
8 oz. manicotti shells
1½ cups 4 cheese blend (Romano, asagio, provolone & mozzarella) alternatively: shredded mozzarella will do fine.
1 bunch fresh basil - chopped
Handful parmesan (optional)
How to Do It:
- Bring water to an easy boil in a kettle. Add a little salt and olive oil to the water, then add the shells. Keep an eye on them as you prepare the rest of the stuff since you don't want to cook them beyond al dente--about 10 minutes.
- Prepare the basil. remove stem and chop fine. Set aside.
- While the shells cook, prep the cheese filling for them. I assemble an easy mise en place as illustrated in the picture.
- Start with ricotta.
- Add the 4 cheese.
- Add beaten yolks. Blend all this together well.
- Add chopped basil. Blend well.
- Fill a pastry bag, leaving ample room to grip up top.
- Drain al dente manicotti shells. Pat dry and place on a clean surface well away from each other, so they don't stick together.
- Spray the bottom of your casserole dish lightly with no-stick cooking spray.
- Grab your marinara.
- Put a light layer of the sauce all over the bottom oof the casserole. If you used cooking spray, be extra careful not to mix that in as you spread out the sauce.
- Assemble a second mise en place for preparing the actual casserole.
- Snip end from pastry bag, and begin filling shells, placing shells side by side in casserole when filled.
- 10 shells seems to be the number that fit.
- Once assembled, spread remaining marinara sauce onto shells.
- Sprinkle lightly with 4 cheese.
- A little Parmesan too, if you like.
- Bake at 400 F for 25 - 30 minutes.
- Allow to rest for a few minutes, plate and serve!