The Chef Within
Manicotti gets even easier
Every time I make manicotti I find yet another shortcut. This one will have the entire world making manicotti. It occurred to me that you can make and assemble lasagne without par boiling the flat noodles. So…if you can bake a lasagne without going to the trouble of boiling the noodles, why couldn’t you fill manicotti tubes right out of the box. Here’s how.
Take the uncooked tubes and fill each with your cheese mixture or whatever mixture you are using. I like using a piping bag and pastry tube but if you don’t have that equipment then simply get a heavy duty plastic bag, transfer you filling to that and snip one corner and squeeze from there.
One person and two hands can now do a job that is typically managed with double that. It is rather challenging, however, to fill manicotti while trying to work a camera. I was really needing my husband operate the camera but sometimes they just aren’t around when you need them the most! So if the pictures are placed a little awkward, that’s why.
Start at one end and squeeze. The mixture will go about halfway down the tube and then flip it over and squeeze into the other end, completing the filling of the tube. Normally you would be holding the tube in your hand, not resting it on the counter. But when one hand has to take a picture this is what you resort to.
Grease the pan you will be using and then pour some of the sauce you are using on the bottom before you place the tubes in the pan. That sauce will moisten the bottoms of the tubes and help them to cook. Please note that because the pasta is dry it will absorb sauce as it cooks. If your sauce is thick to begin with it will be even thicker by the time the pasta is tender and it takes longer for the manicotti to cook, in that case. It is preferable to have a sauce that is on the wet side so that it will provide enough moisture for the dry tubes to cook.
Take to a 350 oven and bake until everything is bubbly and tubes feel soft to the touch. Test in the center where things always take longer to cook. Now that manicotti is this easy we can serve it more often. And think of all the variations! Wow!