Darin loved manicotti, and I wanted to make something special for him for Christmas dinner. I read through reviews online, and adjusted the recipe according to them. The outcome was fantastic!
Many reviewers mentioned an all-beef mixture was too bland, so I did a 50/50 mixture of ground chuck and spicy sausage = lots of flavor. Also, make sure to use a good quality spaghetti sauce (I used Emeril's, and loved it), and it was crucial to the final taste of this dish. We paired this Texas Toast, and was in carb heaven.
Tip: Many reviewed said they placed the cheat/meat mixture into a quart-sized Ziploc bag, cut a corner of it, and filled the manicotti shells. The mixture seemed too thick for me to "pipe" the shells easily, so I just stuffed it myself. I also had a little bit of the cheese/meat mixture left, and just placed it on top of the stuffed pastas.
- 3 tsp olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1/2# ground chuck
- 1/2# spicy sausage roll (we used Bob Evans' spicy sausage roll)
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 8-oz package manicotti
- 15-oz container whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 3 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 24-32 oz jar marinara sauce
- 2 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
- Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tsp olive oil, and saute the onion until tender.
- Once tender, add the ground beef, sausage, salt, pepper, and cook until the meats are cooked through.
- While the meat cooks, add water and remaining 1 tsp oil in a large pot, and cook the manicotti shells for 6 minutes (slightly softened but still very firm to the touch.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and dried parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray.
- Spoon 1-1/2 cups marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish.
- Fill the manicotti with cheese/meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layere in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over. (see "tips" above)
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup Mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese over the stuffed pasta.
- Dot the entire dish with the butter pieces.
- Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30-35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.
Source: Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis