I try to never go back on my word. It’s one of the tenets of parenting. You must keep your promises (which is why it’s also important to be careful what promises you make!). Well, I know I teased you with my last post on Parmesan Skillet Croutons. I said it was the start of a mini-series in baby steps in cooking that would lead to a velvety, comforting rich tomato soup. That was before i found out that my recipe for homemade manicotti was a finalist over at Food 52. So, please forgive me for my little white lie. I promise next week to come back with a recipe for homemade bouillon (baby step #2). But, today, let’s talk about these tender pasta crepes filled with creamy tufts of fresh ricotta cheese and lightly dressed with marinara sauce.
I can’t recall the first time I tasted homemade manicotti, but the experience left an indelible impression on my tastebuds. I’d never been a fan of them, and that was likely because the commercially manufactured ones are belly bombers. My family never made them from scratch.
Then one day I found myself in the kitchen with the urge to make them myself. I started by making some fresh ricotta. It’s incredibly easy, so give it a try. If you pressed for time, then it’s okay to buy it, but make sure it’s fresh—you’d just be doing yourself a disservice otherwise. And don’t forget about the marinara sauce. Surprisingly, I’ve never posted my recipe, so here’s the short version.
Saute a few cloves of garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add one 28 ounce can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a handful of fresh basil, or a teaspoon of pesto if you made some for the winter months. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, and presto you’ve got homemade marinara sauce. I also add a dash of sugar to balance out the tomatoes’ acidity, and yes, I know about carrots and all the other natural ways to add a bit of sweetness. I’ve tried them, and much prefer a smidge of sugar—it’s how my mom and her mom did it. Feel free to skip the sugar all together.
The rest of the recipe is below, and even has some helpful step by step pictures. I’ve added a new printer friendly link to all my posts, so you can easily print the whole recipe out when you settle in to make it. Moms take note, it’s also a fun cooking project for the kids. Let them give the batter a whirl in the blender and those little fingers are great for rolling the manicotti. And if it turns out you like this as much as my family, then go over and vote for me at Food 52. I promise, and really mean it this time, to be back next week with the second step in building the best tasting tomato soup. See you in February!
This recipe is now part of my new site, Simmering. It can be found by searching the archives here.
Beautiful! And the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Manicotti is my husband’s favorite and we’ve been talking about making it. It’s a dish his father, who is an Italian cook extraordinaire, made special for him.
YUM! These look so tasty! 🙂
This looks amazing. Thanks for including EVERYTHING from making the pasta to the ricotta to the finished dish. I can’t wait to try some real manicotti!
I can’t wait to make these!!!!
Drew @ Cook Like Your Grandmother
When you called them “crepes” I thought that was an odd regional thing. But what do you know, these actually are crepes. I always assumed they were made like regular pasta.
This looks really great- can’t wait to try this recipe and you’ve got my vote on Food52!
Wow, I never knew manicotti wasn’t made with traditional pasta!
Yes, very lovely images; I can almost feel the texture of the pasta. Thank you for a great recipe!
Debi (Table Talk)
I really like the crepe idea for this dish—sure looks nice and light. –And fresh ricotta; what could be better?!
This looks wonderful – I voted on Food 52! I have some home made pasta in my fridge right now – might have to try this out!
Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction
These look amazing! I have never tried making crepes for manicotti before, but I will definitely give it a try. One of my favorite dishes!
have you ever tried freezing the dish? at any stage? i think i would bake it, cool, and freeze. but, maybe unbaked?
Jennie, this is by far the most gorgeous manicotti that I have ever seen! I am swooning right now! LOVE IT! 🙂
OMGosh that is gorgeous. You and I will have to make manicotti together some day. Okay, that sounds a bit off but hey, you know what I mean.
I absolutely absolutely must try this! Love making crepes and homemade pasta.
You have a fantastic blog, I’ll be back for recipes : )
These are delicious and everyone loves them. My Mom made them for years and we all devoured them. Always a holiday treat.
We add fine grated fresh mozzarella cheese in the ricotta filling.
I also cover it with foil when baking and remove the foil the last 5 mins.
They tend to puff up slightly from the steam.
I have been cooking my way through your cookbook since I found it at Whole Foods and enjoying so many of your delicious dishes. I have made the ricotta 3 times now, yum. We had the manicotti the other night and it was so good. I used my daughters pasta sauce, which is very similar to yours.