Well after running around this morning getting needed supplies to continue packing and to finalize some last minute details, I decided today would be a really good day to make my manicotti and Caesar salad for dinner. I thought today was especially a good day for it since Chris doesn't have to work tomorrow either. I had toyed around with my manicotti recipe several times trying to achieve the right balance of flavors until I settled on this particular combination. It has become a favorite in our household and among some of Chris' fellow boilermakers as well.
Today I must add that I did not have any grated parmesan at home & did not want to go out and get any; the least amount of items in our refrigerator currently, the better for packing for the move. What I did, however, have on hand was a shredded blend of parmesan, asiago & romano which works perfectly in this dish also.
Also, this particular recipe lends itself to those of you who don't have the time to sit over the stove for 8 hrs to tend to the perfect homemade pasta sauce. I am particularly fond of Rinaldi brand sauces; I find it has the perfect balance of flavors and herbs and is not overly acidic either. Today I went with the Tomato & Basil flavored one.
I have also found that an equal blend of ground pork and beef is perfect in the manicotti; I, oddly enough, never find it in the pork section of the grocery store. It is usually near the ground turkey and Italian sausage links, and also comes in lean.
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbs Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 Tbs olive oil
1-8 oz pkg manicotti shells
1 jar pasta sauce of your choice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 9x13 baking dish.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add beef, pork, garlic, onions, salt and Italian seasonings; drain and cool completely.
In the meantime, cook your shells to al-dente (don't let them cook all the way or they will fall apart or tear; I cut the cooking time by 2 min). Drain and carefully place shells on waxed or parchment paper.
Once meat mixture has cooled, transfer to a bowl and mix in bread crumbs, parsley, mozzarella, parmesan cheese and eggs (your hands are the best mixing tools you have, lol).
Spread pasta sauce over the bottom of your baking dish.
Carefully stuff your shells with a small spoon -OR- you can cut the edge of a large ziplock back and fit with a large decorating tip. Start on one end, stuffing tightly; flip around and continue to stuff being careful not to tear your shells. Arrange in your baking pan, and cover with remaining pasta sauce.
Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
Dot with butter.
Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 40 min. Uncover and continue to bake 20 min, unbubbly
Let rest for about 10 min.
You can serve with garlic toast and Caesar salad, which is our favorite salad for this dish.
If you should try this out, I hope it is a hit in your household as well.
Until next time, Happy Eating!!