Aunt Rita's Manicotti

Aunt Rita's Manicotti


This recipe makes about 13 manicotti. 


Three to four manicotti are usually enough for one serving.  (Except for one Christmas Eve in Atlanta when my cousin Gene ate eleven!)


Crespelle


The crespelle ratio, which can be increased, is 2 eggs, ¾ cup flour, 1 cup water.


For filling made with one 15-ounce container of ricotta, which usually makes enough for four people, I use the above ratio and make the batter out of


2 large eggs

¾ cup flour

1 cup water


Whir the ingredients above in a blender or food processor, and let sit for one hour before making the crespelle.


Put a small amount of a neutral oil (I use peanut) in a small dish or saucer.


Dip a paper towel into the oil, and swipe it over the bottom of an 8-inch non-stick skillet.  Heat the pan over medium heat until hot.


Make crespelle using approximately 2 tablespoons of batter per crespelle.  The exact amount depends on the diameter of the bottom of the pan you are cooking them in, which can differ from 8-inch pan to 8-inch pan.  (If you have a pitcher with a good pouring spout, you can pour the amount of batter you need into the pan once you get the hang of it.)


Put the 2 tablespoons of batter in the hot pan, and immediately swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.  When the crespelle is cooked on one side, turn it onto a plate with the cooked side up.  (I just turn the skillet upside down, and it plops right out.)  I don't cook the second side.  The crespelle can be stacked one on top of another.  Keep working until all the batter is used up.


Filling


1 15-ounce container of whole milk ricotta

4 large eggs, beaten

1 cup Parmesan cheese grated by hand (You can use a regular Microplane or a Microplane medium-ribbon grater, which grates in both directions and makes larger pieces of cheese.)

¼- to ½-pound shredded mozzarella  (You can use packaged "dry" mozzarella for this or "fresh" and grate it by hand on the large holes of a box grater.)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Black pepper to taste - be generous

A tiny amount of grated nutmeg or ground cinnamon

A little salt to taste, keeping in mind that the Parmesan cheese is salty


Mix the filling ingredients together.  Start with the ¼ pound of mozzarella, and only add more if the filling is too wet.  


Prepare the Baking Pan


Lightly butter a half sheet pan.  Coat the pan with a thin coat of whatever tomato sauce you will be using.  


Manicotti


Take a crespelle with the cooked side up.  You will put the filling on the cooked side.  Put about 2-½ tablespoons of the filling onto the crepe, and roll it up loosely like a cigar - definitely not tight as it will puff up when it cooks.  Place it seam side down in the prepared half sheet pan. 


When the pan is filled with stuffed crespelle - now manicotti - put a thin coating of tomato sauce over everything, and place it in a 325 degree oven, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.  You want the manicotti hot enough so the cheese inside melts.  You will see it puff up.  Serve as is or with a little more sauce on top. 


Obviously, the recipe can be easily doubled for six to eight people.  My aunt used to put the filled unsauced manicotti on top of cornmeal-strewen sheet pans to freeze.  Once frozen she would pop the manicotti into freezer bags for easy storage.