Manicotti!! One of the most delicious Italian/Vegetarian meals ever!! In my humble opinion…. Similar to cannelloni, but instead of filling the pasta noodles with minced beef, Manicotti’s are made with just ricotta cheese and spinach. This makes them really simple to make, yet elegant, delicious and a full hardy authentic Italian meal!! The key to a good manicotti is fresh and flavourful marinara sauce. I am just going to go ahead and reference my Basic Marinara sauce recipe to go with this meal. Make this ahead of time with love and care! The more time it has to marinate (hence marinara ;)) the better it will be.
I made this fabulous Italian feast for a very special friend’s wedding celebration! I really did want everything to be simply perfect for this exceptional occasion. We had 7 lovely girls for dinner, and I thought choosing Italian would be a safe feast everyone can enjoy. Having a vegetarian option was also important, but that just came naturally as I chose the menu. Flat bread home made pizzas, with marinara and basil, Caprese salad with beautiful garden tomatoes, fresh basil and bocconcini cheese (recipe also found on my site here!), manicotti, then homemade gnocchi with pesto. I must say everything was fabulous and so easy to prepare ahead for a larger group.
I bought my fresh pasta at our local Italian store “Lucianos”, when I am going to the effort to make any authentic meal and especially for guests getting the best ingredients is very important. There is no way I am serving those pre-rolled, hard pasta noodles in the box, quality ingredients make all the difference! Therefore, fresh pasta was key. I asked Mr Luciano himself how he would cook these, he was very helpful and straight to the point in an Italian manner. Buy 6 sheets of pasta, cut them in 3, boil each with salt just 3-5 minutes, then run them under cold water right away, this will prevent them from sticking. I did exactly what he said and they turned out famously!
You will notice there are not too many ingredients for this meal, which makes it so simple and doable!! Hope you enjoy 🙂
Makes 18 rolls
6 sheets of fresh pasta (to be cut into 3)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 containers of ricotta cheese
1 large bunch of spinach
salt and pepper
chopped up basil to garnish
about 4 cups of homemade marinara
Preheat oven to °400.
Once the marinara is ready and has been marinating awhile, then you can start the pasta and filling. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then add the ricotta, chopped up spinach, half of the parmesan and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Now for the pasta noodles. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil, add a pinch of salt. Once boiling gently place in the pasta only about 4 at a time, don’t over crowd the noodles. Once 3-5 minutes is up and they are floating around, bring them to a colander and run cold water over them, set aside on a clean towel. Repeat until all 18 are done.
Pour about 1 cup of the marinara in the bottom of a large baking dish (I had to use 1 large one small). Then simply put about 2 tablespoons of the filling into the middle of the pasta, roll up, and place them in the baking dish seam side down. Repeat till finish, then pour the rest of the marinara on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan – some people will add a bunch of mozzarella on top, you certainly can but I really don’t think it’s necessary, remember K I S S!