Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce

So I'm home full-time now and I find myself with a new energy and excitement in the kitchen. I love to cook and try new recipes, but haven't had the patience (or kids with patience) to bust out a meal like this in some time.

I made my grocery list this week and on it were the ingredients for 3 new recipes from my favorite cooking resource, Cook's Country. I've never made a recipe out of these magazines that wasn't divine.

First on the list was manicotti, made with a few ingredients that made my taste buds happy before I even opened my mouth. With the big girls as helpers and Little Toothache in her high chair with a snack, we tackled this recipe with delicious results.

I hope you enjoy and devour this recipe as happily as my family did.

Baked Manicotti with Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce
1 onion, chopped
6 oz sliced deli pepperoni
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
1 Tbs tomato paste
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 (28oz) cans crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

3 c ricotta cheese
2 1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 c shredded provolone cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (see note)

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. pulse onion and pepperoni in food processor until coarsely ground. Add beef and pulse until thoroughly combined.

Transfer beef mixture to large saucepan and cook over medium heat, until no longer pink (about 5 min). Using slotted spoon, transfer 1 cup beef mixture to paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Add tomato paste garlic and pepper flakes to pot w/ remaining meat mixture and cook until fragrant (about 1 min). Stir in tomatoes and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened (about 20 min). Season with salt and pepper.

Combine ricotta, 2 c mozzarella, 1 c provolone, egg, salt, pepper, basil and reserved meat mixture in large bowl. Pour 2 quarts boiling water into 13 x 9-in baking dish. Soak noodles until pliable (about 5 min). Drain noodles on kitchen towel, pour of water and dry baking dish.

Spread half of meat sauce over bottom of baking dish. Top each soaked noodle with 1/4 cup cheese filling, roll and arrange, seam-side down, over sauce in baking dish. Spread remaining sauce over manicotti. Cover with foil and bake until bubbling around edges, about 40 min. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and provolone. Bake until cheese is melted, about 5 min. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve.

Note: You need 16 no-boil lasagna noodles. Get the Barilla brand (comes 16 to a box, other brands only have 12). I found these in the dry pasta aisle, even though I started looking for them with the refrigerated and frozen noodles.

My notes: 1) I skipped the red pepper flakes, even though it was just a smidge. I didn't want to risk the heat turning off the little palettes in the house 2) I only have a small food processor, so I only did the onion and pepperoni in the food processor and then mashed it in with the beef by hand.

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