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Three-Cheese Manicotti

Storage tip: The unbaked manicotti can be frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze, cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake, frozen and covered, at 350°F for 1 hour.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. plus 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 14 manicotti, 1 lb. total
  • 3 cups roasted tomato sauce, homemade (see related recipe at left) or purchased
  • 2 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:

Cook the manicotti
Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch freezer-to-oven baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. salt and the manicotti. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain again.

Fill the manicotti
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the prepared baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the basil, the eggs, the 1/2 tsp. salt, the pepper and nutmeg. Place the cheese mixture in a pastry bag or a large resealable bag with one bottom corner snipped off, and fill the manicotti.

Place the filled manicotti in the prepared dish and top with the remaining tomato sauce and Parmigiano-Reggiano. If freezing, cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and place in the freezer (see note above).

Bake the manicotti
Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Make Ahead, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).