After a potential catastrophe with a bottle of wine, another fun evening with the Aunties! And an Italianate dinner. For the first time in a long time, I made manicotti, a dish which I always enjoy both preparing and eating. With a nice salad and a loaf of ciabatta, a lovely meal. And then ice cream and a card game for dessert. But what was the catastrophe? There were two bottles of wine on the table, and as I was serving, I elbowed one of them right off. To our stunned amazement, it shattered to a zillion pieces and there was wine and glass everywhere. Margaret, naturally, was thrilled and ready to lap it up, glass and all. Quick! Onto Dakki’s lap with her, while Pauline and I scurried about trying to get it up before it rolled under my cupboard. I had been freezing at work and forgotten my jacket the evening before, so I borrowed a bath blanket to wrap up in for the walk home, planning to bring it back next time I worked. With lightening reflexes, I grabbed it, and it lapped up the bottle of wine instead of Margaret getting at it and cutting her tongue – not to mention getting tipsy, which, I am sure, is not good for dogs.
The upside of this story is that, as I said, there were two bottles on the table – one a lovely bottle I received as a gift, and the other, my usual plonk. Happily, it was the plonk that hit the floor.
The manicotti is really pretty quick to make. It is similar to lasagna, but easier, and – dare I say it? Even more delicious! Here is my tried and true recipe.
For the tomato sauce
One white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ cup chopped celery
¼ cup finely diced carrots
One 26 oz can crushed tomatoes
Teaspoon dried basil
For the noodle dough:
2/3 cup flour
one half-eggshell full of water
a little oil, about a teaspoon or less
A little salt (about 1/3 teaspoon)
For the filling:
Fresh ricotta – about a cup
Grated mozzarella – also about a cup
Freshly grated Parmesan
9 inch square baking dish, smeared with olive oil
Tomato sauce – sauté onions, garlic, celery, and carrots until the onions and celery are translucent. Add the can of tomatoes, the sugar, pepper, and basil. Heat, stirring, and simmer for a tiny while – not more than five minutes. Taste for salt if needed. Set aside.
Prepare noodle dough as you usually do, rolling it very thin – nearly thin enough to read through. Cut the noodle strips into squares about 3½ - 4 inches. There should be about 12 squares.
Place a heaping tablespoon of ricotta on each noodle square, then a tablespoon of tomato sauce, and then a big pinch of mozzarella on top of that. Using a pastry brush, dampen the edges of the noodle, and fold the corners up to the center, making a little package of cheese and tomato sauce. Place the packet in the baking dish with the sealed side down. Continue thusly with the remaining noodle squares. Spoon the rest of the tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with some freshly grated Parmesan.
Bake it at 350° for 30 minutes. Yummy!
4 hours ago