A Southern Grace: cooked hands

February 9, 2017

cooked hands


Baked manicotti. I'm not a pasta lover.

However, when it's a component of something that's about 75% cheese, I can bear it.

Manicotti is such a dish. There is so much deliciously creamy ricotta, stringy mozzarella, and salty parmesan that the pasta is a welcome vehicle to deliver it all into my wide open mouth.

Truth be told, I had never had manicotti until my sister-in-law made it for us over the summer. Her version was so flavorful and comforting that it stayed on my mind. When my husband casually mentioned the dish one day, I knew it was time to try to make it myself.

My only challenge with this dish was completely filling the tubes without splitting them down the side. Since I've made this a few times now and tried several different techniques, I can tell you that I've had the best success with a ziplock bag-turned-cheese squirter. A long thin spoon, while effective, is extremely tedious, and I really don't relish using my hands for a job like this. The faux pastry bag got the filling all the way through the tube with little mess.

I've used homemade sauce and store-bought sauce, and both are fine. I've tried adding lemon zest to the filling like in my eggplant involtini, but it was a little too overpowering for this dish. The recipe below is the one we've enjoyed the most, made with homemade sauce, of course.

(printable recipe)
Serves 3-4
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/2 box manicotti noodles (7 tubes)
  • 1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup), divided use
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup), divided use
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 2 teaspoons dried basil), plus more for garnish
Cook manicotti in salted boiling water until al dente. My box called for 9-10 minutes, and I stopped at 7. Drain, and rinse with cold water.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 2-quart dish.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and herbs; set aside.
Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce onto the bottom of the prepared dish.
Gently stuff each tube with the ricotta mixture until full but not bursting out the ends and place on top of the marinara sauce.
Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that the pasta is completely covered.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil.
Sprinkle evenly with remaining cheeses. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbly, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.


Unknown said...

So much creamy cheesy goodness! I’m with you, not a huge pasta fan but if the dish tips more into the really-an-excuse-to-eat-a-bunch-of-different-cheese-territory, I’m in :) This one’s going on my must make list, Right Now.

Big Rigs 'n Lil' Cookies said...

Love Pasta. But, I haven't made a manicotti in ages. Need to give this a try and indulge in some lovely pasta cheesy goodness!

Marjie said...

Cheese makes everything better. Well, maybe not chocolate chip cookies, but everything else!

Angie's Recipes said...

wow that's lots of cheese, Grace. This is something I would love too!

Pam said...

I haven't made manicotti in a long time. The ziplock bag cheese squirter method is my favorite choice too... easier & much less messy! Your manicotti looks comforting and delicious. I have a sudden craving for pasta now.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Mmm well I just happen to love pasta. And these filled tubes sound so good (75% cheese hello!)

Alicia Foodycat said...

I love pasta anyway, but I love cheesy pasta even more.

KR said...

Oi, I love cheese. Thank you for inspiration

Kate said...

These look incredible Grace!! I LOVE all pasta but pasta + cheese is my weakness.

Gingi said...

That looks so good, my mouth is literally watering!! Holy smokes! Your food photography is as amazing as your cooking!!! - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

What a good looking dish, love that you added 3 kinds of cheese. We don't eat alot of pasta but everytime we do I think why don't we have this more. Gorgeous pics Grace!!

Food Gal said...

You're not a pasta lover? How can that be?!?! Well, I hereby declare that I will willingly take any pasta you don't want. I am a carb lover through and through; I can't help myself. LOL

Kate @ Framed Cooks said...

Well, I definitely AM a pasta lover (and a cheese lover) so sign me up for this one!

Adina said...

I have never heard of manicotti, but I suppose they are pretty much the same thing with cannelloni, which are pasta tubes we buy here. I love them and I normally use a regular piping bag to fill them. I make them often with spinach and ricotta but I am sure I would love this version as well.

Barbara said...

I'm not a pasta lover either...when you order it out, there always seems to be too much to eat! At home, I worry about the carbs. And I try to use whole wheat pasta when I make it. Your dish looks wonderful, Grace. And that cheese? Double yum on that!

Pam said...

It looks delicious! I haven't made it in ages so thanks for the recipe! I get you with the pasta thing, one of our sous can't stand pasta and the other can't stand cheese. Made meal time interesting here when they were young, as in there's always peanut butter! Happy Valentine's Day!

Katerina said...

All this cheese heaven... I love every bite of it!

Juliana said...

Are you real? 75% cheese? I am in...the manicotti look so good Grace...with all the cheese in and out...I would love to dig my fork in it. Thanks for the recipe.
Have a great week :)

lisa is cooking said...

I'm a pasta lover at or nearing addict-level. And, pasta as cheese delivery system is even better. This looks delicious!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Can you believe I've never made manicotti--and I DO like pasta! This looks delicious!

Sandy said...

I've never made this either, there you go inspiring us all again!

Beth said...

This sounds delicious, and I love your suggestion for filling the pasta! Much easier than the tediously slow method I've been using. I'll give it a shot the next time I bake pasta shells.

Marcelle said...

We don't eat a ton of pasta either, but your pictures and description have me craving!! This baked manicotti looks delicious! :)