February 13, 2007

Manicotti for All

The Baked Manicotti

I think manicotti is one of the easiest dishes to make. Simple ingredients and about 15 minutes and this dish is in the oven.

One special ingredient that makes this dish so good is fresh basil. I grow basil and freeze some for wintertime use. If you can’t get your mits on fresh basil, dried works fine too, but fresh really makes this dish pop. I’ve found that when cooking dishes with few ingredients, it’s always best to use the freshest herbs and higher quality ingredients because they really make a dish full of flavor.

Enjoy! Tomorrow I’ll have recipe for the entries in my company’s bake-off.

McConnell Manicotti
By Lane

12 lg. manicotti shells
2 tsp. dried sweet basil
½ tsp garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
2 scallions, chopped
* 1-26 oz jar spaghetti sauce
2 C. ricotta cheese
½ C. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cool water.

Let pasta dry on paper towels. For filling, in medium bowl, stir together 3 cups mozzarella with the ricotta cheese, basil, egg, scallions and garlic powder.

Using a teaspoon, carefully stuff pasta shells with prepared cheese mixture. Spoon 2 cups spaghetti sauce into prepared baking dish. Arrange stuffed pasta over sauce. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over top of pasta.

Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella. Bake manicotti for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the Parmesan; bake for 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

To spice up a jar of spaghetti sauce: Place sauce in a medium saucepan, add Italian seasonings, chopped garlic cloves, 1/3 of a chopped onion and whatever other ingredients you like. When I am in a hurry I use prepared sauce, but nothing beats homemade spaghetti sauce.

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