The word ‘stuffed’ (when describing a dish,) typically conjures up visions of savory cheeses, spinach, and a variety of other delectable ingredients – delicately wrapped inside a piece of tender meat or hearty pasta. Today I made homemade manicotti shells, a la crepe-style, and stuffed them with a mixture of Ricotta and Parmesan cheeses, spinach, toasted pine nuts, and crispy pancetta! (Add anything you’d like – mushrooms and/or sun-dried tomatoes would have also been tasty! Leave out the pancetta for your vegetarian friends.) A real show-stopper, especially when your guests find out you made the manicotti shells! It honestly couldn’t be easier: Make the batter, quick griddle the manicotti shells/crepes, mix up the filling – and you’re ready to roll, literally!
1.5 Cups Flour, 1.5 Cups Milk, 6 Eggs – Whisk together until smooth – drop onto lightly greased skillet or griddle – making thin crepe-style manicotti shells. They cook very quickly – maybe a minute or two with a quick flip. Remove from pan to parchment-lined sheet pan.
Spread filling in a thin layer, roll ’em, and place in a baking dish with sauce on the bottom. Top with additional sauce and cheese, and it’s ready for the oven. 375 F (Covered – 30 Minutes) Remove foil and continue baking until bubbly and golden-brown! Buon Appetito!
Last day of winter break before going back to work tomorrow, so what better way to spend part of it than making homemade fresh pasta, Cavatelli to be exact! My absolute favorite! It’s very similar to a (potato) gnocchi, but made with ricotta cheese, and instead of little dumplings, the dough is rolled into little shells. I posted this very easy (3 ingredients) recipe a while back, and today’s updated post shows the same pasta made with my very vintage hand-crank Cavatelli machine. The previous post, Sunday Cooking, shows a picture of hand-rolled pasta shells. A little more free-form than these more uniform shells, but either way, they’re great! (If you do get your hands on a machine, it’s even more important to have very dry and well-floured dough so it doesn’t get stuck in the machine! Thanks, Dad, for that in-the-moment advice!) It’s a good idea to lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan to freeze so they don’t stick together when put in a freezer bag for storage. Take them right from the freezer into a pot of boiling salted water for 4-6 minutes. They’ll float to the top when ready! Buon Appetito!
Until recently, I had never eaten spaghetti squash, let alone cook with it. I recently shared an appetizer of Spaghetti Squash Parmesan with my friend Sylvia and I was hooked! Check out my take on this easy, delicious, and nutritious (I’m sure) recipe:
Wash and cut (lengthwise) one spaghetti squash. With a tablespoon, scoop out and discard seeds and stringy interior from center of squash. Lightly coat cut surface and interior with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Place cut side down on parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 375F. You’ll know it’s ready when a knife can be easily inserted into the center of the squash. Let cool for 10-15 minutes until you can comfortably handle the squash. Using the tines of a fork, scrape along the interior (down to the skin) of the squash, peeling away ‘spaghetti-like’ strands of squash. Remove to a bowl and toss with the red sauce of your choice and 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Once squash is well coated with sauce, scoop back into the squash shells, top with Mozzarella cheese, return to parchment lined baking sheet – and continue baking at 375F for another 10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted.)
Let stand to cool for a few minutes – and enjoy! Pair with a mixed salad, crusty Italian bread, and a glass of red wine! Delicioso!