A little while ago, I did a post all about our favorite meat sauce. And the sauce is so good – believe me! Here’s the post for how to make some of the best tomato pasta sauce you’ll ever taste!
But today, I will show you what to do with this delicious recipe, once you’ve whipped it all up.
Once the tomato sauce is going, you get out your favorite sausage. We get ours from a local deli, Keller’s Farm Store, their Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage. We used to do the regular Italian Turkey Sausage, but we discovered the sweet one is really good! But then all of their stuff is good! But any good Italian sausage works, though. You start browning it and then break it up to smaller pieces. I think I would prefer larger pieces than we did here, but whichever way you like.
Now that you have the sausage all cooked up, you get your casserole dish out. We have a wonderful, big Pampered Chef roasting stoneware dish. It’s all pale and unseasoned right now, but someday we’ll have it the right, deep brown color that it’s supposed to be. Spoon enough sauce on the bottom to cover it.
While the sausage is heating up, you work on the filling for the manicotti. Take about a pound of ricotta cheese, one egg, salt and pepper, and some ground nutmeg. Mix it up in a food processor until its all smooth and creamy, and then you fill either a pastry bag or a big plastic bag with the cheese mixture. It’ll look something like this. Cut a small hole off of one tip.
Traditional recipes will have you boil the manicotti until a little softened. We don’t do that – in fact we kind of cheat! But actually it totally works fine – just don’t tell your fancy chef friends about it and they won’t know the difference! We leave them uncooked. They’re much easier to handle at this stage that way!
Fill up the manicotti tube with the cheese mixture. You first squeeze it into one end until you can see that it’s about half way through the tube, and then you switch sides and squeeze it into the other end. It gets it into there more efficiently this way, otherwise you make a big mess, since it starts oozing out the wrong end.
Fill all of them up and lay them side by side at the bottom of the casserole dish. The sauce underneath and on top creates enough moisture to soften the manicotti. Then you sprinkle on as much sausage as you want, and then the sauce. It has to have enough to completely cover the pasta. I did the picture with a couple of the manicotti sticking out so you can see them better, but then I pushed them back under the sauce.
We did a couple different cheeses this time. Usually, we just do grated mozzarella, but we added provolone. So now you can call this three cheese (ricotta, mozzarella, provolone) manicotti, or you could add Parmesan and make it four cheese (ricotta, mozzarella, provolone and parmesan) manicotti!
Dot the Provolone all over the top. It doesn’t need too much, since you’re putting on the mozzarella in a moment.
And then the mozzarella.
And then you pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes with some sort of covering (a lid or foil, and the foil should dome enough so that it doesn’t touch the cheese). And then a few more minutes without the covering so you can brown the cheese a little. When you take it out, it should be all hot and bubbling. Bake it at 350.
And now you serve it up with a yummy green salad, some garlicy broccoli or bacon and apple Brussel sprouts. And there you have it! Our family style Italian food – and however good or bad you are at cooking, there’s nothing like home cooking. And this really is pretty simple, so you can’t go wrong!
Four Cheese Manicotti
- Mama’s Meat Sauce
- 12 manicotti, uncooked
- Sweet Italian Sausage, browned
- Cheese filling:
~ 1 pound of ricotta cheese
~ 1 egg
~ salt and black pepper, to taste
~ freshly ground nutmeg
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- 2 or 3 slices of Provolone, broken into pieces
- A grating of Parmesan cheese
Pre heat the oven to 350. Put the ricotta, egg, salt and pepper, and the ground pepper into a food processor and blend until smooth, and then put into a pastry bag or large plastic bag. Cover the bottom of a large casserole dish with meat sauce. Fill the manicotti with the cheese mixture, filling it half way on one side, and then half way on the other side of each manicotti. Layer the filled manicotti on the bottom of the pan, side by side. Sprinkle liberally with Sweet Italian Sausage. Cover them completely with meat sauce. Dot with provolone and sprinkle mozzarella.
Cover with lid or aluminum foil, domed so it doesn’t stick to the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake again until browned and bubbling. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy with the family!
What is your favorite Italian cooking?
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!