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Tuesday Recipe Club, Part Deux: Manicotti

November 14th, 2006

What is up with me and the recipes? Cold weather makes me want to cook, I guess.


1) Boil manicotti noodles for about 8 minutes — don’t let them get too done. Put a little oil in the water so they don’t stick. No salt! Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside.

2) While they’re cooking, beat four eggs in a bowl; mix in one carton (16 oz.) cottage cheese with one carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese; mix in one bag defrosted frozen spinach. (I never remember to defrost it — OK to microwave for a short amount of time.) Add a little salt and pepper, and a small amount of nutmeg (my secret ingredient). My mother-in-law gave me 3 or 4 fresh nutmeg cloves (nuts?? whatever they’re called) for Christmas a couple years ago — I’m still using them. I bought a tiny Microplaner and it is so cool to have fresh nutmeg. Great with eggnog and in cookies. Not that I’m drinking eggnog. Or eating cookies. I use my parmesan Microplaner to grate in a fair amount of fresh parmesan and then stir it all up. Although really, I think this is too much cheese.

3) Slice a pound to a pound-and-a-half of mozzarella into thin strips. (Or thick, if you want to make everyone happy with gooey layer of cheese.)

4) Time to assemble: Use fresh or canned marinara (I have my own, frozen of course, Martha-in-training that I am. We had a bumper crop of Romas this year). Make sure you have at least two to four cups on hand. I cover bottom of baking dish with sauce so noodles won’t stick, then stuff noodles with ricotta mixture. (OK to cheat by tearing noodles in half lengthwise — makes it easier to assemble this way.) You can assemble it with a layer of cooked meat on top of pasta. Sweet sausage is great, or just hamburger. It’s yummy, too, with a layer of whole, fresh basil leaves on top of the pasta. (Carmela Soprano’s secret touch when she makes lasagna. And this dish really is just lasagna, with a different type of pasta.) Then cover with more sauce and spread mozzarella on top.

Jamie Oliver (the Naked Chef) likes to drizzle a small amount of the marinara on top, and not drench it. Then he uses creme fraiche in lieu of the mozzarella. I tried it this way and it was great, but my family was baffled and said, “Make it the right way.” Yeah.

Bon Appetit!


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