Delicious Italian manicotti, just like my Italian Grandmother used to make. It was one of my favorite Sunday dinners that she used to prepare for us when we would visit. Upon hitting her from door, we could smell the luscious spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove. The pungent aroma of garlic bread baking in the oven filled the house.
Italian manicotti is made with large pasta shells traditionally stuffed with cheese. True manicotti shells are marked by ridges. The smooth tubular pasta are cannelloni. Manicotti shells tend to be a little thicker and less likely to split when being filled.
Sometimes my Grandmother would stuff them with meat and cheese. She was such a wonderful cook. Her food was out of this world. Her manicotti was no exception. If there were leftovers we always got to take them home and have them for lunch the next day.
I still make manicotti when I get the chance. I love cooking Italian food. It always reminds me of my Grandmother and all the love and caring she used to put into her cooking.
One great thing about manicotti, it makes great leftovers. It freezes well and taste even better the second time around.
These manicotti are made with cheese. But, when I make spaghetti sauce, I add 2 country style spareribs (either with or without bone)and cook them in the sauce until they are very tender. I shred the meat and add it to my cheese manicotti for a distinctly different flavor.
Italian Manicotti Recipe
- 12 large manicotti shells
- 1 1/2 lbs ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 3 cups of spaghetti sauce
- 12 thin cut slices of mozzarella cheese
- Parmesan cheese for topping
- Cook manicotti shells according to instructions on the box. When shells are cooked al dente, drain in a colander. Separate the shells so they do not have a chance to stick together. Lay them out on a piece of plastic wrap until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, mix the ricotta cheese, basil and eggs. Stir until well combined.
- Ladle enough sauce into the bottom of the sprayed baking dish to cover the bottom completely.
- Carefully stuff each shell with the prepared mixture using a small spoon. (I have an old silver baby spoon that I use) Place them in the baking dish about a 1/2 inch apart. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top of the manicotti.
- Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes at 350°. After 20 minutes, remove foil and place 2 slices of thinly cut mozzarella cheese over each manicotti. Place back in the oven for 5 or 6 more minutes to melt the cheese. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.