Thursday, October 22, 2009

Prepare-Ahead Holiday Meal: Manicotti

2009 Chickie Award – And the Winner is….

The 2009 Chickie Award contest featuring top recipes for 2009 has selected its winner:

Manicotti with Red Sauce submitted by Annelle Williams of Annelle’s Table from Martinsville, VA.

Hosted by The Food Wine Chickie

Over the river and through the woods—it's time for family and friends and lots of company. Whether you're hosting a Thanksgiving get-together, or you're going to be the guest, here's a suggestion for easing the work load. You can prepare this dish now, freeze, and serve anytime. Our family holidays consist of more than one day, and certainly more than one big meal, and I'll bet yours do, too!

This Manicotti recipe has been part of our holiday menu for years. The 'noodles' are similar to crepes, and can be prepared much earlier and refrigerated or even frozen. I usually make them while my sauce is cooking. (Save the parchment paper squares that you stack between the crepes and reuse them.) The crepe 'noodles' are quick, easy, and give the dish a great flavor and texture.

Omit the Italian sausage from the sauce, and you have a delicious vegetarian main course. Give it a try: serve it yourself, or deliver it as a frozen hostess gift. I promise you'll be happy with the results!

Manicotti with Red Sauce


One-fourth cup extra virgin olive oil

One and one-half cups finely chopped onion

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 lb. Sweet Italian sausage

One-half cup red wine

6 cups diced tomatoes with juice

1 small can tomato paste

1 cup water

2 T chopped parsley

2 tsp. salt

1 T sugar

1 tsp. Dried oregano

1 tsp. Dried basil

One-fourth tsp. Pepper

One-fourth tsp. Red pepper flakes (optional)

2 heaping T basil pesto


6 eggs, room temp.

One and one-half cups all-purpose flour

One-fourth tsp. Salt

One-fourth tsp. Pepper

One-fourth tsp. Dried Thyme

One and one-half cups water


2 lb. Ricotta

1 lb. Mozzarella, diced

One-half cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

2 eggs

1 tsp. Salt

One-fourth tsp. Pepper

1 T chopped parsley

Pesto (optional)


1 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese


Add olive oil to large sauce pan over medium heat and saute onions and garlic 5 minutes. Add wine and reduce a little. Add sausage, and brown. Mix in rest of sauce ingredients. Bring to boil, and reduce heat. Simmer mixture, covered and stirring occasionally 1 hour. Add pesto, and check seasoning.

For Manicotti, in medium bowl, combine 6 eggs, flour, salt, pepper, thyme and water. Whisk just until smooth. Let stand half an hour or longer—even over night in frig. Slowly heat an 8 inch non-stick skillet. Pour in 3 T room temperature batter, rotating skillet quickly to spread batter evenly over bottom.

Cook over medium heat until top is dry and bottom is not brown. Turn out on a wire rack to cool.
Continue cooking until all batter is used. As the manicotti crepes cool, stack them with waxed paper or parchment between them. (You can make a day or two ahead and store in frig.)

For filling, combine ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, the eggs, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir well to combine.

Remove sauce from heat and blend with immersion blender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon one and one-half cups sauce into each of two medium sized casserole dishes, or line one dish with foil to freeze, and prepare exactly the same. Sometimes, I make three small casseroles, two to share with the kids, and one for us. You'll have plenty of sauce!
If using pesto, spread a scant teaspoon of pesto on manicotti crepe before adding cheese mixture.

Spread about one-fourth cup filling down the center of each manicotti and roll up.

Place eight rolled manicotti seam side down in single layer. Top with five more. Cover with 1 cup sauce.

Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan Cheese.

Bake, uncovered half an hour, or until bubbly.

To freeze: line baking dish with large piece of heavy duty foil. Assemble as before. Fold foil over to seal and freeze in dish. When frozen, remove dish and replace foil wrapped casserole in freezer. To serve, unwrap, place in baking dish, and let stand for 1-2 hours to thaw. Bake, covered 1 hour, until cooked through and bubbling.

Buon Appetito!!


  1. I can't wait to make this recipe. I love the way you write. Your simple to follow instructions. The photos are fabulous. So glad we were able to connect on Twitter. I'll be in touch when we launch some of our interactive projects. All the best, SAUCY

  2. Here's another great looking recipe for homemade manicotti, and Jennie makes her own ricotta! Check it out!

  3. fresh basil and fresh oregano is far preferable to dried.. just about every supermarket carries it.

    JMHO. wb

  4. You're absolutely right, Warren, and I grow it during the warm months...unfortunately, this time of year you can't even always find it in our 'sad' Martinsville (super?)markets. Last week they had mint and rosemary?? No sage, no was sad. I make my pesto each summer and freeze it in little containers to use all winter. And I have dried my own oregano, basil, etc.
    Nothing beats fresh herbs!