Thursday, March 3, 2011

Baked Manicotti with Prosciutto

This is a great recipe. It's simple, yet very flavorful, and actually pretty darn fun to put together. Regular manicotti can be a huge mess to fill so this variation is like a breath of fresh air. Using no-boil lasagna noodles instead, makes this dish super easy and leaves a lot of room for creativity.
Let's get started, shall we?

Baked Manicotti with Prosciutto
(adapted from Amanda's Cookin')

For the sauce:
2 - 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes, with juice (or the equivalent in fresh, diced tomatoes)
2 T extra virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 - 1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes (I used 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 T chopped fresh basil

For the filling:
3 cups ricotta cheese (I used fat-free)
2 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided (I used reduced fat)
2 cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2% reduced fat)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 T chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (1 1/2 packages)
16 slices thinly sliced prosciutto

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the sauce: In a large saucepan, heat the oil, garlic and pepper flakes over medium heat until garlic is just starting to brown, about 2-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce slightly thickens, about 15 minutes. Then turn off the heat and add the basil.

For the filling: Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup of the parmesan, eggs, salt, pepper, parsley and basil. Mix well and set aside.

Assembly: Cook noodles in boiling water until just pliable (this will only take about 30 seconds!!). Drain (but, do not rinse) and then place in a single layer on clean kitchen towels.

Pour about 1 1/2 cups of sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread evenly.

Place 1 slice of prosciutto on top of each noodle. Then spread 1/4 cup of cheese mixture over 3/4 of each noodle, on top of the prosciutto, leaving 1/4 of the noodle uncovered.

Then, starting from the end of the noodle with the cheese, gently roll the noodle into a tube shape and then arrange in the baking dish seam side down. Continue until all manicotti are rolled.

Top the manicotti evenly with the remaining sauce, making sure to cover each noodle completely.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack until the sauce is bubbling (about 40 minutes).

Remove manicotti from the oven and adjust the oven rack to the highest position (about 6 inches from the heating element). Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of parmesan cheese evenly over the manicotti. Do not replace the foil. Broil on LOW until cheese starts to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with crusty garlic bread and a fresh green salad. Serves 8.

*Note: This dish can be made ahead of time. After assembly, place a piece of parchment paper over the top of the sauce and then wrap the top with aluminum foil (a few times if freezing). Then place in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze.
To cook, let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes or so (or thaw completely), then remove parchment paper, replace foil, then follow baking instructions.

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