Monday, November 12, 2012

Stuffed Manicotti

A couple of weeks ago when I made chicken parmigiana, I made a double batch of sauce and froze the unused portion. Pairing the sauce with some manicotti noodles I had in the pantry and I was half way to a tasty week night meal! Because the sauce was done ahead, the start to table time was about an hour and fifteen minutes with 40 minutes of that being cooking time. I stuffed the manicotti with sausage and cheese. We prefer Johnsonville sausage links over the bulk sausage varieties so I've gotten a little creative to get it diced up for the manicotti filling. I first cut eat link into 4 or 5 pieces before browning. After it has cooked, drained and cooled, I use my Pampered Chef chopper to dice it up into fine crumbles. Not sure if the makers of the chopper intended it to be used in this way, but it works like a charm!

Sausage and Cheese Manicotti:
Serves 7-8

8 cups sauce (recipe below)
1 lb package sweet italian sausage
2 tbsp olive oil
1 box manicotti noodles
15 oz ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 egg

Cook noodles per package directions. Drain noodles and let cool on a sheet pan for about 10 minutes. While the noodles are cooking, drizzle olive oil in a pan and place over a medium heat. Slice up sausage links and cook in the heated oil for 5-7 minutes. Drain the sausage and set aside to cool. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, 1 cup of mozzarella and egg. After the sausage is cool, finely dice and fold into the cheese mixture. Stuff the sausage and cheese mixture into the cool manicotti. This recipe uses two 9x13 baking dishes. Spread 2 cups of sauce into the bottom of each dish. Place half of the stuffed manicotti into each dish and cover each with an additional cup of sauce. Cover the dishes and bake for 35 minutes in a 350* oven. Remove cover and sprinkle the other cup of cheese over the manicotti. Bake for 5-10 minutes more or until cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.


4 29oz cans of tomato sauce ( I use Hunt's)
1 8 oz can of tomato paste
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1/2 small onion diced fine
4 cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp each of basil, oregano and thyme
3 tbsp sugar
2 cups water
Olive oil

Drizzle 2-3 tbps of olive oil into the pot you are using for your sauce. Heat up over low-med heat. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Add diced garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the spices and cook another minute to start releasing the flavors. Add the cans of sauce, paste and diced tomatoes. Stir gently to combine. Add sugar and water stir again. Turn heat to low and simmer for 1-2 hours. Stirring occasionally. Taste after 1 hour and add spices and/or sugar to taste.

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