by Karin Calloway
Preparing manicotti used to be a true labor of love. Store-bought pasta just wouldn’t do, so I’d laboriously prepare crepe-like sheets of manicotti pasta. The sauce was a homemade marinara, which simmered for hours. Then I discovered egg roll wrappers in my grocers’ produce section. Not only do they eliminate a tremendous amount of preparation time, but the resulting dish tastes just as good as my original recipe. And, they don’t require any precooking.
Today’s supermarkets have an unbelievable assortment of pasta sauces, allowing busy cooks to cut preparation time without sacrificing quality. Combining the jarred sauce with the seasoned diced tomatoes gives the sauce the chunky consistency of homemade marinara.
This recipe makes 18 to 21 manicotti, enough to feed your family, the neighbors and a small army. However, the dish freezes extremely well. Serve one pan of manicotti one week, and freeze another pan for later in the month.
- 2 pounds ricotta cheese
- 12 ounces (3 cups) grated mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 26-ounce jar marinara sauce or tomato basil spaghetti sauce
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained
- 1 16-ounce package egg roll wrappers (21 6 x 6-inch squares)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine ricotta, 2 cups grated mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, salt, black pepper and parsley in a large bowl. Mix well.
In another bowl, combine the jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce with the diced tomatoes. Spray two 9 x 13-inch glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of each dish.
Prepare manicotti by placing an egg roll wrapper on a flat surface. Spoon 1/4 cup filling in the center of each and roll up. Continue preparing manicotti until all filling is used, placing them seam side down in a single layer in the sauced dishes.
Spread 1 cup of sauce evenly over the manicotti in each dish. Cover dishes tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove casseroles from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle each casserole with 1/2 cup of the remaining Mozzarella cheese. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Note: The prepared, uncooked manicotti can be frozen in the baking dish, well covered with foil, for one month.