December 20th, 2011
Let’s talk filled pasta. Ravioli, tortellini, manicotti, stuffed shells…come to my mouth. Let’s make hot, gooey, saucy memories. Filled pasta is the best. Especially cheese-filled pasta. And the more cheese, the better. The only problem with manicotti and stuffed shells is that they’re kind of a pain to make, and the pre-made frozen ones are mediocre at best.
Enter lazy man’s manicotti. Which is actually nothing like manicotti other than that it’s some sort of pasta with some sort of filling, topped with some sort of sauce. Moving on….
Last week I told you about boring, versatile, marinara sauce. I even gave you a few ideas of how to spice it up and make it something really delicious. Today, I’m going to show you something to actually do with that sauce. I chose the boring style since this is a “lazy” dish, but you can dress it up however you want. Although, I say it’s lazy but I made the sauce and the ricotta from scratch. But that’s just because I prefer homemade ricotta to store-bought and I’m
kind of a cheapskate.
First of all, you get yourself some lasagna noodles. I used whole-wheat because I thought it would be tasty and it was, but they broke really easily so I don’t actually recommend it. Introduce them to some boiling water, tell them it’s a hot-spring, and let them loosen up a bit. Once they’re cooked, drain them and lay them out to cool down.
Then it’s time to baby some cheese. Ricotta is the usual but I suppose you could use cottage cheese if you wanted. Personally though, it has to be fluffy, soft, slightly lemony homemade ricotta. Then you add some shredded mozzarella (fresh would be best, but we’re being lazy so pre-shredded it is), and freshly-grated parmesan. Even on the laziest days, there is no excuse for the tasteless, dry powder you get in the green can. Just no.
Now to that cheese add some chopped mushrooms, any old kind but I used buttons because they were sitting in my vegetable bin writing their wills. Add an egg to hold it all together and give it a little body. Then season with plenty of sea salt, black pepper, and Italian Seasoning. Taste (if you dare with that egg in there, but since I get organic eggs it doesn’t bother me) and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Spread 1/3 of your sauce on the bottom of your baking dish and preheat your oven. Make sure the filling is well-combined then spread it on individual noodles, not too thickly or it won’t roll up. Roll them up from the short end and place them on top of the sauce. Once you’ve finished, pour the rest of the sauce over top of them all, and sprinkle with more mozzarella if you haven’t been eating it all with your fingers like me.
Bake until bubbly and starting to brown slightly, then let it cool for about 5 minutes so the cheese can settle. Serve it up with some crusty bread and salad alongside (and more parmesan for sprinkling if desired), and enjoy having spent about 30 minutes making dinner (including 10 to bake it).
- ½ lb lasagna noodles
- 1 c ricotta
- ½ c shredded mozzarella
- ¼ c freshly-grated parmesan
- 1 med. egg
- ½ c chopped fresh mushrooms
- Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste
- 2 c marinara sauce
- Cook noodles according to package directions. Lay them out to cool down.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 13″x9″ glass baking dish with cooking spray and pour one-third of sauce in the bottom.
- Combine cheeses, mushrooms, egg, and seasonings in a medium bowl.
- Spread the mixture on each noodle. Roll the noodles up from short end to short end and place on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
- When finished filling and rolling the noodles, pour the remaining sauce over all and sprinkle extra cheese on top. Bake 10 minutes, or until bubbly and beginning to brown slightly.
- Let cool 5 minutes before serving.