Like so many Italian-American families, in mine it is customary for us to have one “pasta” dish Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (or both). I have to share my mom’s recipe for Manicotti. They are light as air, creamy and so satisfying. I assure you, once you have these, you won’t eat the pasta-filled tubes anymore with grainy filling. This possibly was the dish most welcomed at our Sunday dinner table. With the exception of making the crepes, it’s really easy. They can be prepared ahead and kept in the fridge. When you are ready to cook them, take out the baking dishes and place the covering of marinara on top. A great alternative to lasagne!
For the crepes:
- 10 large eggs
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 5 tbsp. of margarine, melted
- 1 ¾ cups whole milk, at room temperature.
Mix the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together to remove lumps. The batter should be the consistency of heavy cream. Then, preheat an 8 inch non-stick pan over medium low heat. Place about 1/4 cup of batter in the preheated pan and swirl around until the bottom of the pan is covered. Wait until the edges start to brown. Flip the crepe and brown slightly on the other side. Remove and let rest on a dishtowel. They can be prepared a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator or left on the counter, covered, for several hours. Yields about 40 crepes.
For the filling:
- 3 lbs. whole milk ricotta, drained
- 1 lb. whole milk mozzarella
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese finely grated
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- 2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. That’s it.
Additional ingredient- 2 quarts of good marinara.
Place a small amount of marinara into the bottom of a 9x13x2 baking dish. Take about three to four tablespoons of filling and place in a line along the center of each crepe. Trifold the crepes bringing the bottom of the crepe over the filling, and then bringing the top of the crepe over as well. Place, seam down, into the baking dish. (Fill the crepes up as much as you like, but it is best not to overfill them, as they will ooze when cooked.) When you have the bottom covered with filled crepes, place a small amount of sauce over the bottom layer and repeat with a second layer. I would not assemble more the two layers. You will need two baking dishes with 20 crepes in each. Cover with additional sauce. If you like, sprinkle a little parmesan on top of the second layer for appearance.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Let rest out of the oven for ten minutes and serve immediately.