KELLEY SAYS: Manicotti is a family favorite and one that I don't do a lot because my usual method is an all-day affair. I not only make the sauce from scratch, I make the crepes and go the extra mile with a blend of cheeses. For this one, I wanted to make a delicious holiday dish — no reason Italian food shouldn't be part of your holiday menu — and I wanted to make it somewhat easier to compose.
BARRY SAYS: However you want to rationalize it is fine with me. Manicotti is one of the dishes Kelley made for me early on, and I've loved it ever since.
KELLEY: I'm skipping the marinara sauce recipe here because I figure you have your favorite. You can go as simple as right out of a can or jar, or you can make your own. I did make the crepes and composed the manicotti. This is one of those dishes that seems a lot more involved than it is, but it does take some time. You have to make each crepe individually and fill and roll them, but it is worth it.
BARRY: All I know is that with a salad, some garlic bread and a nice glass of wine, it's pretty near perfection.
KELLEY: You can also add meat to this recipe to make cannelloni.
BARRY: Yes, please.
1 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water. Blend in a mixer until smooth. Let stand 30 minutes or longer. Slowly heat 8-inch skillet. Use a ladle to pour batter into the skillet, and rotate to get a thin round crepe. Cook over medium heat until top is dry but bottom is not brown. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool. Repeat until all batter is used.
2 pounds ricotta cheese
1 package (7 ounces) Italian-blend shredded cheese
1/3 Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup fresh cheddar, shredded
3 scallions, sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Favorite marinara sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, Italian-blend cheese, 1/3 cup parmesan, cheddar, eggs, scallions, salt, pepper and parsley. Blend well. Spread about 1/4 cup filling down center of each manicotti and roll up. Ladle in enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of a lightly greased casserole dish. Place manicotti rolls in bottom of dish, and add 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce. Add another layer of manicotti, and add another cup of marinara sauce. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, and bake in the oven uncovered for 1/2 hour or until bubbly.
Contact Barry and Kelley Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.