Baked Manicotti

This was my post-Passover feast. I really couldn’t stop eating it. So simple but so delicious. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

Here’s what you need:

For the tomato sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced or crushed

Two 28-oz cans diced or whole tomatos

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated (optional)

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

salt & pepper to taste

For the cheese filling:

One 15-oz container of ricotta cheese

1/2 of a 15-oz container cottage cheese

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella

2 cups (4 ounces) Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

+ 16 no-boil lasagna noodles

Here’s what you do:

1. Make the sauce:

a. In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant and turning light brown, about 2 minutes.

b. In the meantime, pulse each can of tomatoes a few times in the blender or food processor. Then, add to the garlic.

c. Add the carrot (if using), the sugar, the dried herbs, and salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook about 15 minutes.

2. Prepare the noodles: Pour boiling water into a 9×13 inch pan, and submerge the noodles, one at a time. Add additional water if noodles are not fully covered. Soak for about 5 minutes, until noodles are pliable. Then remove, one at a time, separating with the tip of a knife, and lay out on a large towel to dry.

3. Make the cheese filling: Combine the ricotta, cottage cheese, half the mozzarella, half the parmesan, the eggs, the herbs, and the salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

4. Assemble and bake the manicotti:

a. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

b. Spread about 1.5 cups of the sauce evenly over the bottom of your 9×13 inch pan.

c. Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture evenly onto the bottom three-quarters of each noodle, roll each into a tube, and place each roll into the pan seam side down. All sixteen of the rolls will perfectly fit snugly in the pan.

d. Top the rolls with the remaining sauce, making sure all pasta is covered.

e. Cover tightly with foil, and bake about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through.

f. Remove from the oven, remove the foil, and turn your broiler to high.

g. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top of the manicotti. Place under the broiler about 2-4 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbly (but watch carefully because this can move fast, and the pan may need to be rotated several times).

Remove from the oven and enjoy!

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