Monday, January 17, 2011


The great thing about this simple manicotti is that so much can be made ahead of time. The sausage cheese stuffing mixture can be made a day ahead, and you can cook and stuff the manicotti about 2 hours, so when guests arrive all you have to do is bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Choose your sausage from mild or sweet to fennel spiced to hot depending on your taste.


1 lb Italian sausage (I use sweet and add spice later)
1/2 cup chopped shallot
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 (28 oz) San Marzano whole tomatoes in juice
1/2 cup white wine
1 (15 oz) whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup fresh provolone cheese diced into cubes
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1-1/2 cups fresh parmesan cheese
olive oil
crushed red pepper (optional)
1 lb manicotti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slit the sausage to release fat while cooking and place in a pan with a tbl olive oil, shallot and garlic. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Turn sausage and cook another 5 minutes. (turn heat down if onion and garlic start to brown). Add the wine and cook uncovered until it reduces and shallots begin to brown. Remove from heat.

Puree the tomatoes in a food processor and strain seeds if you want...I leave them in. If you are adding red pepper add it here. Pour tomatoes into pan with sausage and simmer over low heat until the tomatoes reduce to about 2 cups....This should take about 1 hour to 1-1/4 hour. Add basil and simmer for 5 minutes. Take sausage out of the pan and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Place the ricotta cheese in a bowl with the provolone, 2 tbl parmesan and a pinch of pepper. Cut sausages into cubes and add to the cheese mixture.

Cook manicotti 3/4 of the way or about 7 minutes. Drain and cool on a lined baking sheet. Stuff with the sausage and cheese mixture. In an olive oil greased 13 x 9 pan, add a layer of sauce and line stuffed manicotti in a single layer. Spoon remaining sauce over the top of manicotti. Add about 3/4 cup parmesan on top of sauce and bake until sauce bubbles about 20 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes.



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