Thursday, November 8, 2018

Manicotti al Forno - Stuffed Shells Roman Style

Manicotti are very similar to cannelloni and could be prepared with both a white and red sauce, but in Rome, it is usually just a red sauce. I like both ways.

Preheat the oven to 350 F...

1 Tablespoons of olive oil for sauteeing onion
1 Finely diced small red onion or several shallots
1 Pound very fresh ricotta cheese
1 Bunch fresh spinach triple washed and stemmed, wilted, chopped
½ Cup heavy cream
1 Beaten large egg
¼ Cup bread crumbs made from stale Italian Bread or Ritz crackers (stabilizer)
½ Cup graded Romano or parmesan cheese
¼  Teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste
Large manicotti shells or jumbo pasta shells, cooked in boiling salted water until they to the point of being flexible but still al dente.

Wilt the stemmed spinach, drain, put the spinach in a kitchen towel and wring the towel to force water from spinach then chopped well. Sauté the shallots or onions in olive oil until translu­cent. In a large bowl, beat the egg until pale yellow. Mix in all the other ingredients but add in hot shallots (onions) last. Optionally, add 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil. Season mix with nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Load mixture into a pastry bag with a half inch nozzle.

Very lightly brush the 13 by 9 baking dish with olive oil. Make a thin layer of red sauce in bottom of dish.

Fill shells and place slit side up if using jumbo pasta shells. Cover with red sauce. Repeat for next shell filling the pan with stuffed shells. With all shells covered with red sauce, following with an alfredo sauce, sprinkle with additional grated Romano cheese. Optionally, drizzle over a hint of olive oil.

Bake at 325 F for about 45-60 minutes or until done. Serve immediately.

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