Friday, January 13, 2012

Asparagus Manicotti

Happy Friday the 13th! I hope that everyone will be rooting on the Teeebooow magic this weekend against the evil Patriots! Anyway, back to more important! When you add vegetables to a dish that is made primarily of pasta and cheese, it automatically becomes health food. How could it not? I've never made manicotti before and the shells were on sale, so I decided to give it a try. While asparagus isn't a traditional additions, I loved it. The asparagus retains some of the crunch for texture and imparts more flavor to the dish. Obviously the melty cheese doesn't hurt. I think next time I will try it with spinach and see how I like it. I can never go back to plain manicotti again! Note: I made this in a smaller pan that is about half the size of a regualr casserole dish. This works out better for 2 so that we have one meal and the one day of leftovers. A whole casserole dish would mean that we'd be eating manicotti for a month of Sundays.
Asparagus Manicotti
8 spears asparagus
6 manicotti shells
1 jar pasta sauce
1 small tub ricotta cheese
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 egg
1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

1. In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook your manicotti shells according to the instructions on the box. To save time and effort, I cooked my asparagus in the same pot (but I only cooked them for 5 minutes).
2. Remove the asparagus and coarsely chop.
3. In a bowl, mix together ricotta, yogurt, egg, with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Then add the asparagus and mix in.
4. When the manicotti are cooked to al dente, remove them from the boiling water. When they are cool enough to handle, stuff them from both ends using a small spoon. It is messy work! Don't worry if they crack or break, although keeping them moist will reduce breakage. Just put the cracked-side-down and no one will ever notice.
5. Ladle about 1/2 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan so that the manacotti don't stick and line up the shells in the pan.
6. Top the manicotti with the remaining sauce so that they are covered and dollop any remaining ricotta on top.
7. Sprinkle generously with cheese.
8. Spray a piece of foil with non-stick spray and cover the manacotti. Cook in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Then remove the foil and cook until the cheese is bubbling and brown. I usually set my manicotti pan on top of a sheet pan in case there is overspill. Then my oven doesn't get a coating of sauce.
9. Let the manicotti rest for 5 minutes before slicing so that it cools slightly and the cheese won't ooze out everywhere.
10. Serve up and enjoy this healthy, veggie-packed dinner :)

One Year Ago: Stuffed Cabbage

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