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Classic Cheese Manicotti - A Family Feast

Classic Cheese Manicotti

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 4 hours including time to drain the ricotta
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: entree
  • Method: baked
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

1 16-ounce tub whole milk ricotta cheese

1 8-ounce box ribbed manicotti (14 tubes per box)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup sweet onion, diced

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced fine

2 whole eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 cup plus two tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or half that of dried

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or half that of dried

1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce, or see here for homemade Marinara recipe


Instructions

Lay out a piece of cheesecloth 18 inches square and scrape the tub of ricotta into the center.

Pull the sides up and tie the top with twine.

Place a strainer over a bowl and set the filled cheesecloth into the center. Place another smaller bowl over the cheesecloth bundle to weight it down. I used a few raw sweet potatoes I had but any weight will do including full cans of any product.

Put this in the refrigerator and let the cheese drain with the weighted top for at least three hours but longer is better. You could also drain overnight.

While the cheese drains, place a large pot of water on to boil and once boiling, add a teaspoon of salt then gently add all 14 manicotti tubes and boil seven minutes only. The box says nine minutes but only boil seven. Pour into a colander to drain then run under cold water to cool.

Also cook the onions in garlic by putting olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for eight minutes. Add garlic and cook for two more minutes.

Remove pan to cool.

After draining the ricotta, discard liquid and pour drained ricotta into a large bowl.

Add the cooked onions and garlic along with two beaten eggs, one cup of the mozzarella cheese, one cup of the Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup of the chopped parsley, salt, pepper, oregano and basil and stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Spread one cup of the marinera sauce in the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish.

Cut the end off of a 16-ounce disposable pastry bag wide enough to dispense the filling but small enough to fit into the end of each manicotti tube. Fill with half the filling.

Dry off the cooked manicotti tubes and start filling each one by inserting the pastry bag half way and squeezing to the end. Turn, and fill the other half the same way. Repeat for 12 tubes, refilling the bag as needed. As you fill, pick out the best 12 tubes out of the 14. There always ends up being a few that split which is why you cook all 14 tubes.

As you fill each tube, lay them in two rows over the sauced pan. My pan was slightly oval so I laid the rows from side to side but you could lay end to end.

Pour the remaining sauce down the center of each row, using all of the sauce.

Sprinkle on ½ cup of mozzarella and ½ cup of Parmesan over the sauce.

Place a piece of parchment over the baking dish then wrap tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and parchment and broil for a few minutes to brown the tops then sprinkle on the remaining two tablespoons of chopped parsley and serve.


Keywords: cheese manicotti