Manicotti is a type of Italian American pasta that features large tubes of pasta, usually ridged, that is staffed and baked. The filling is usually ricotta cheese mixed with various ingredients, such as ground meat and chopped spinach, topped with a sauce like a béchamel sauce.
This dish is popular with Italian immigrants across the globe. In Italy, it was called cannelloni and was a common holiday dish or Sunday lunch.
What’s unique about it
The unique thing about cheese manicotti is its versatility with ingredients. You can prepare it ground meats, cheeses, vegetables and meat.
Follow these steps to prepare cheese manicotti.
- Start with a preheated oven at 375 degrees.
- Cook spaghetti for about five minutes in a large boiling pot until al dente.
- Drain the spaghetti.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
- Add onion and cook for about six minutes until soft.
- Add garlic and tomato paste then cook for an additional two minutes until the tomato paste becomes dark and the garlic softens.
- Add crushed tomatoes (including the juices), turn the heat to medium-low, and let it simmer for about ten minutes.
- As you wait, prepare a ricotta filling by stirring together ricotta, a quarter cup Parmesan, a half cup mozzarella, lemon zest and basil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Ladle a few scoops of the sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish and smooth it into an even layer.
- Use a spoon to add the ricotta mixture into the manicotti. Place into the baking dish side by side until you’ve used all the ricotta mixture.
- Use the remaining Parmesan, mozzarella and tomato sauce as topping.
- Bake for 15–20 minutes until the cheese melts and bubbles.
- Use basil to garnish and serve immediately.
Common variations of this dish include cheese manicotti, chicken manicotti and spinach manicotti. All these variations are family-friendly, inexpensive to prepare, freezer-friendly, and can make large quantities.