Manicotti with crepes

Manicotti is a wonderful dish that is essentially a soft cheese filling inside either large pasta tubes, pasta sheets, or wrapped in thin crepes. I find the tubes an absolute pain to use since you have to try to stuff the thick filling into cooked tubes of pasta and usually make a mess in the process. Filling crepes or sheets of pasta and then rolling them like a loose burrito is so much easier.

First, get a couple cups of your favorite tomato sauce. There are a few listed here in the blog or even a good jarred sauce will work. nnYou can either make these crepes (which are actually really easy to do) or you can make or buy fresh sheets of pasta usually used for lasagne. Cut the sheets in half for the proper manicotti size.

2 cups of marinara sauce.
Crepes or pasta

2 eggs
2 pounds ricotta
2 + 1 cups shredded mozzarella (Divided use)
1 + 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (Divided use)
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, eggs, the parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, the pepper and the nutmeg. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the manicotti.

Heat oven to 375 degrees and lightly brush two 9-by 13-inch baking dishes with oil.

Make the crepes or boil the pasta. I found some wonderful non-boil fresh pasta sheets that worked great with this recipe.

(If you wish to make crepes, see below the recipe)

Spread about a half cup of marinara sauce over the bottom of the baking dishes.

Assemble the manicotti: Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons filling down the center of a crepe or pasta sheet. If using the large tube pasta, fill the pasta (easiest is with a piping bag with a large tip) Roll it up and place it, seam-side-down, in one of the baking dishes. Repeat with remaining crepes and filling.

Divide marinara sauce between two baking dishes, spreading it evenly over the manicotti, then bake for 30 minutes.

6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups water or milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a large bowl, whisk six eggs with water or milk. Gradually add flour and ⅛ teaspoon salt, whisking gently until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove batter from fridge and whisk it briefly.
Heat about ½ teaspoon vegetable oil in an 6-inch nonstick pan over medium heat.

Add about 3 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of batter, lifting and swirling the pan to spread a thin, even layer of batter on the bottom of the pan. Cook until batter starts to appear dry, about 30 seconds, then carefully flip crepe over and continue cooking for another 30 seconds. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining crepe batter, adding oil every few crepes and adjusting heat as necessary.

These freeze well. If making a large batch of crepes place the cooked crepes between sheets of wax paper and seal in a gallon sized ziplock bag. Toss in the freezer. You don’t even need to defrost them. Just take the frozen crepe and place in a pan over medium heat to reheat.