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Stuffed Manicotti

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Created by Lorrainesfav, Date Added: Friday, 06 April 2012
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Description

Here's a Stuffed Manicotti recipe that made finalist on the Food Network show Ultimate Recipe Showdown. I competed in California with this recipe but did not win the $25,000 prize. The whole experience being on TV was amazing and will always be one of the highlight's in my life. Manicotti crepes, or CRESPELLE, are light and much easier to make than fresh pasta. The ingredients are made into a batter and cooked like a pancake. You can make and assemble the manicotti the day before; just add the sauce and Grana Padano cheese just before baking. I serve Manicotti with fried eggplant coated with fresh breadcrumbs, panko bread crumbs and Grana Padano cheese.

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Ingredients
  • Crespelle Batter:
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1- 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 3 Tablespoons Melted Butter
  • 1 Cup All-purpose Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pam
  • ------------
  • Ricotta Filling:
  • 1 Pound Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 Pound Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (in a 8 oz. bag)
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1/4 Cup Italian Parsley, freshly finely chopped
  • -------------
  • Marinara Sauce:
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped fine
  • 8 Cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 -28 Ounce Cans Crushed Tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1/4 Cup Italian Parsley, fresh, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, torn
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • ---------------
  • Manicotti Topping:
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Grana Padano Cheese, plus more for serving at the table
xxxx
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Directions/Steps
  1. MAKE THE CREPES (CRESPELLE):
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Gradually whisk in the ur and salt until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour until slightly thickened.
  3. Spray an 8" non-stick skillet with Pam. Place the pan over medium heat. With a small ladle, pour about 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan. Turn the pan at a 45 degree angle to coat the pan evenly so the batter forms a perfect circle. Cook the crepe only until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Turn the crepe over with a spatula and cook the other side only until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Slide the crepe onto a 12 inch platter and continue the process with the remaining batter. Stack the crepes between waxed paper so they don\'t stick. You can prepare these crepes a day in advance covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. No need to reheat the crepes before filling and baking.
  4. MAKE THE RICOTTA FILLING:
  5. In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the ricotta filling. With a large wooden spoon or spatula, stir all the ingredients until well blended. Store covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can make this filling the day before.
  6. MAKE THE MARINARA SAUCE:
  7. In a large heavy non-reactive saucepan with a lid, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant but NOT browned. Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and crush further with a potato masher. Simmer 30 minutes, slightly covered, on medium-low heat, stirring every so often. Add the parsley, basil leaves and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for another 10 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced. Taste and reseason as necessary.
  8. PUT IT ALL TOGETHER:
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat the bottom of a 13 X 9 glass or ceramic baking dish with 1 cup of the prepared marinara sauce. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the prepared ricotta filling 1 inch from the edge of each crepe. Roll evenly into a log, keeping the filling even as you roll. Repeat with the remaining crepes. Place manicotti seam side down and side by side in the sauced baking pan. Spoon 1-2 cups of sauce over the top of the manicotti. Sprinkle with grated Grana Padano cheese.
  10. Cover the baking dish loosely with foil and bake about 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15-20 minutes until the topping is golden brown and sides are bubbling. Let rest about 15 minutes before serving to firm up the manicotti filling.

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Additional Tips

You can also bake the Manicotti in separate baking dishes like my picture. It makes a beautiful presentation at the table. Serve each in a dinner plate lined with a cloth dinner napkin. Instead of foil, I use a cutout piece of parchment paper to cover the Manicotti while baking. It does not stick to the topping and is easy to check the Manicotti while baking in the oven. Grana Padano cheese is similar to Parmigiano Reggiano cheese; much milder and less predominant as to keep the delicate flavor of the Manicotti.

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