During my college days, I was lucky enough to celebrate Easter with one of my roommates and her large Italian family. It was always an amazing feast. One of the first courses served was a homemade manicotti. I’ve loved it ever since- and now think of it in the springtime.
I was drawn to the “French” twist in this version, using crêpes in lieu of pasta. They were tender and delicious. Lovely.
This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine contributed by Christine Dimmick. I adjusted the seasoning and ratios. I also modified the crêpe batter technique from using a blender to hand-whisking, and to cooking them on a lightly oiled crêpe pan, my tried and true method. This dish could be modified to include any variety of fillings in the crêpes. Next time I may incorporate spinach or mushrooms. 🙂
- 2 cups ricotta cheese (15 ounces), preferably fresh
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 6 ounces)(part-skim okay)
- 2/3 cup coarsely chopped basil, plus more for garnish
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
- vegetable oil, for the pans
- 3 cups tomato sauce, preferably homemade (I used local Mamma Lombardi’s Marinara Sauce)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta with the mozzarella, basil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, to taste.
- In a bowl, whisk the flour and eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the water and a generous 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk until smooth.
- Heat an 8-inch crêpe or omelet pan over moderately high heat. Using a brush, lightly oil the pan and add a small ladle of the batter (about 1/4 cup); working quickly, swirl the pan to coat it evenly.
- Cook until the top of the crêpe is dry and the bottom is lightly golden, about 1 minute. Flip the crêpe and cook until the bottom is lightly golden, about 20 seconds longer.
- Transfer the crêpe to a large plate and repeat with the remaining batter to make a total of 16 crêpes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
- Coat the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish with 1 cup of the tomato sauce.
- Arrange the crêpes on a work surface. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling in a line down the center of each crêpe. Loosely roll up the crêpes, burrito-style with ends folded in, and arrange them, seam side up, side by side in the baking dish. (I placed them in 2 rows of 8 crêpes.)
- Pour the remaining 2 cups of tomato sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
- Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the tomato sauce is bubbling and the manicotti are heated through.
- Garnish with basil, if desired. Serve piping hot.
Make Ahead: The unbaked manicotti can be refrigerated overnight. Allow up to 15 minutes longer for baking.
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