Monday, February 9, 2009

Baked manicotti or jumbo shells (p. 339), Meat and spinach filling (p. 338), Cheese filling (p. 337), and Garlic bread (p. 641)

I am still absolutely amazingly behind in my blogs. I think I've made about thirty dishes since I last blogged so I need to catch up! Make sure to check back every day.

I like to make big meals on Sunday. It's relaxing to cook and great to have leftovers to eat all week. I decided to make one of the more complex recipes (as in, it has quite a few steps)--a double recipe of Baked manicotti or jumbo shells (p. 339) using two fillings. Although I grew up with an Italian mother, she never made manicotti (she did very very occasionally make jumbo shellos) but I do like them.

I boiled the manicotti and heated the tomato sauce (mom's delicious sauce). Two packages of manicotti give you more pasta than you need, which is great if half the shells are broken (which they often are).

The first filling I made was Meat and spinach filling (p. 338). The recipe is fairly close to my grandmother's secret ravioli filling (no, I won't tell you the differences), so I was feeling confident that it was going to be delicious. I was also really excited to use the herb shears that Josh got me for Christmas.



The first step of the recipe was to toast some breadcrumbs. Toasting the breadcrumbs adds a lot of flavor--and it's easy.



The mix is easy--pureed, cooked spinach (I used frozen), ground pork, a couple eggs, the bread crumbs, grated Parmesan, dried basil, some garlic, and parsley. The mixture was fairly easy to stuff into the manicotti--I used my fingers because the spoon kept splitting the sides of the shell.





I also made Cheese filling (p. 337). It's an easy recipe--beat some ricotta until fluffy, add some eggs, parsley and Parmesan, and done!





I tried to stuff the cheese filling in with a spoon--no luck, it kept splitting the shells. I tried my fingers--no long, it wasn't thick enough. Instead I decided to pipe the filling into the manicotti--perfect! I spooned all of the cheese into a Ziploc bag, cut off the corner, and filled the shells. Easy and neat!



The filled manicotti were then lined up in a baking dish. I poured a bunch of mom's sauce over the top, and then sprinkled mozzerella and Parmesan on the top. And into the oven it went!





It took about forty minutes and was ready.



How was it? Very very tasty. Both types were delicious. I really recommend making a double batch because they are a hassle to make and fill--might as well make a lot. They heated up terrifically. Make sure not to overcook the pasta or you would have absolute mush by the end.

And what is perfect with pasta? Garlic bread (p. 641)! And even better--the garlic bread was on the randomized list. This is one of those super easy recipe. I sliced a loaf of French bread--but not totally through, so it stayed in a loaf.



Butter (an entire stick of butter) and garlic (I used much more garlic than it recommended) were mixed together and brushed on the bread (and on top of the bread).



Into the oven for twenty minutes--




Incredibly delicious. Wow! I love garlic bread and this recipe reminded me why. I know there is nothing mind-blowing about the recipe but it sure was good and I will definitely make it again.

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