man, oh manicotti

It has become a recent tradition that most every Sunday night Hubby and I have dinner with his parents.  We go over to their house and have a nice, home cooked, family dinner; it's such a nice way to end the weekend.  To switch things up, yesterday I invited the in-laws for dinner at our place - it gave me an excuse make Hubby's favourite dinner:  Manicotti.

I made three pans of the manicotti and I'm sure that Hubby could have finished all three by himself.  He likes it that much.

The recipe I use is from Giada De Laurentiis, however, I've modified it to suit our tastes and dietary restrictions.  I wanted to share this recipe since it's such a goodie, so enjoy!
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Manicotti (I used 1.5 packages)
  • 1 container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups freshly-grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans marinara sauce 
Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, onion and ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and cool.  Once cool, pulse in a food processor for a couple of seconds, until mixture is no longer really chunky.  If you don't have a food processor, this step isn't necessary, but I find that it creates a really good texture for the filling.

Combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled (and food processed) meat mixture into the cheese mixture.

Brush 1 teaspoon of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over a glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.

Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese, then the remaining Parmesan  cheese over the stuffed pasta.*  Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.

*The dish can be prepared to this point and refrigerated for up to 8 hours - great for a dinner party!

lunch:  bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard - delicious

PS:  Hubby and I also went to a German Christmas Market yesterday (his idea - I love him!).  We had a blast walking around, shopping, and eating delicious food.  Great weekend!

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