Monday, July 20, 2009

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

This recipe comes from the first Giada De Laurentiis book I ever received. It is a delicious Italian-American staple that requires some time to assemble, but is always worth the effort. This recipe is also great to make ahead and freeze for those nights when you want a hearty, comforting dinner, but don't feel like cooking!

Beef and Cheese Manicotti
(Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis)

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. flat-leaf parsley , chopped
2 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
1 (8 oz) box Manicotti pasta
2 cups Marinara sauce

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and onion and saute until the meat is brown and the onions are tender. Drain any grease. Cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in the meat and onion mixture. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Brush 1 tsp. of the olive oil over a large baking sheet. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the Manicotti and cook until softened but still firm, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the Manicotti rom the pot to the prepared baking dish and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the remaining 2 tsp. of oil over a 13X9 pan. Spoon 1/2 cup of Marinara on the bottom. Fill the Manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture.

**I use a gallon Ziplock bag, fill with mixture and cut the corner to make a piping bag. This allows me to neatly fill each of the Manicotti with a lot of filling with less mess!

Arrange the pasta in a single layer. Spoon the remaining marinara over the pasta. Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Bake, uncovered, until it is heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 35 minutes.

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