Live Real. Eat Real.

Three Cheese Manicotti with Meatballs

manicottiWe are having so much fun here at the Sushi Bar with Jolly and Little Guy!  There will be more pictures very, very soon, but I can’t let a week go by without at least one recipe.  This is a good one, and since I made it for dinner last night, it’s still pretty fresh in my mind.

I’ve mentioned before that Italian is my least favorite ethnic cuisine.  Which, according to a survey Beloved read recently in the Podunk Suppository, is directly contrary to the rest of the country – Americans apparently love their pasta.  And really, I suppose I should qualify this all:  it’s really Southern Italian cuisine that I could take or leave; all that pasta and tomato sauce.  I adore polenta and risottos, though, and the very thought of Osso Bucco or Fegato alla Veneziana makes my mouth water.

Yes, I am strange, but you already knew that.

That being said, my family loves pasta and tomato sauce, so I have a few dishes I cook every now and then.   Since I am also rather fond of ricotta cheese fillings, I tend to gravitate towards lasagna, ravioli and this dish when called upon to make something other than spaghetti.

This dish isn’t hard to make, although it takes awhile to assemble.  You have to handle the manicotti gently when cooking, draining and filling it so the pasta tubes don’t tear too terribly much.  Filling the manicotti with the cheese mixture is probably the trickiest part of the dish, but that is much facilitated by the use of a reusable, polyester pastry bag fitted with a collar or tip with a very large hole.

Note: since you’re using a jarred pasta sauce and quite a bit of cheese, there’s no added salt to this dish; it really doesn’t need it, unless you want to salt the water you boil the manicotti in.  If you do not eat pork, you can use lean ground beef only for the meatballs; add another half teaspoon of each spice and a little salt and pepper to the meat mixture then.

Three Cheese Manicotti with Meatballs

serves 6 – 8

1 lb box of manicotti (about 14 tubes)

15 oz. container ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded, fresh Parmesan, divided

2 ½ cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 large jar of your favorite pasta sauce (we use a local brand called Mids – goooood stuff)

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 slices plain white bread

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

olive oil

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Pulse the bread slices with the oregano, basil and thyme in the bowl of a food processor until they are reduced to coarse crumbs.  Place the crumbs in a large mixing bowl with the ground beef, Italian sausage, the 2 beaten eggs and about half a cup of the jarred pasta sauce and mix well.  Using your hands, form the meat mixture into meatballs about 1 ½ inches in diameter.  Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meatballs on all sides; reserve and set aside.

Cook the manicotti according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water until cool.  Drain again, gently shaking the water from the pasta.

While the manicotti is cooking, mix the ricotta with ½ a cup of the parmesan, ½ a cup of the mozzarella and the one beaten egg in a large mixing bowl until well combined.

Spread about 1/3 of the remaining jarred pasta sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Carefully fill each of the manicotti tubes with the cheese mixture (again, the use of a pastry bag will make this a great deal easier) and place them on top of the sauce in the pan.  Place the meatballs on and around the manicotti and spread the rest of the pasta sauce over it all.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil from the dish and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown slightly.

Let the manicotti rest for 10 minutes before serving.

And have a lovely weekend, y’all.


14 comments

Jan, I love you. But my ass hates you.
Have to make this!
.-= Sprite’s Keeper´s last blog ..Spin Cycle: I confess, but only because I bruise easily. =-.

Be says:

num num num

OH YUM!! But you shouldn’t be cooking. You should be holding that baby!! Now put down the pot and pick up the baby. That’s an order.
.-= Midlife Slices´s last blog ..Scary Faces of Halloween =-.

Manicotti is one of the first meals I learned to cook. (From a guy I dated briefly in college!) I’ve never made it with meatballs though … thanks for giving me something new to try!
.-= Twenty Four At Heart´s last blog ..Getting My Life Back? =-.

Pseudo says:

My mom used to make a yummy manicotti and complain how time consuming it was… It is a meal I’ve not made too much, but now that I have a Jan recipe, will give it another try.

Now I’m off to look up Fegato alla Veneziana….
.-= Pseudo´s last blog ..Manson Murders and Matching VW’s Part Three =-.

Pseudo says:

It’s LIVER. Ack.
.-= Pseudo´s last blog ..Manson Murders and Matching VW’s Part Three =-.

Jan says:

ROFL!! Pseudo, I told you I was weird. Yes, I like calves liver. And onions.

For the record, Beloved doesn’t understand it either.

Erin says:

I used to make this often, in my other life. Other half is not a fan of cheese. Cheese is my favorite. We still get along ok.
Have fun with that wicked cute baby!! :-)
.-= Erin´s last blog ..wordless leaves and stuff =-.

Mama Badger says:

Yummy, yummy, yummy. You have motivated me to make a sauce tomorrow! And then stuffed shells tomorrow. Loving you.

I need more baby pictures! And I’ll have one for you on Monday. o’s first day of school outfit includes a certain blue sweater that you’ll recognize…

Oh, and you don’t need a pastry bag. A gallon size plastic bag with a little of the corner snipped off works just as well! I use this technique for everything from filling pasta to “pouring” mess free muffins and cupcakes.

Love the leaves, too.
.-= Mama Badger´s last blog ..Spin Cycle- I hate to admitt it… =-.

Love me some manicotti!
Enjoy your weekend with the babe.
.-= Maureen@IslandRoar´s last blog .."Hello? Here I Am…" =-.

Oh YUM! I usually cheat and stuff the shells when they’re uncooked, then make sure they’re covered with sauce and cook longer in the oven. Yeah, I’m lazy that way. ;)
.-= Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)´s last blog ..Learning Things the Hard Way…and Happy Hour Friday =-.

So do you have the little guy eating pasta and sauce already?
.-= Smart Mouth Broad´s last blog ..OOOooo, BABY, HE KNOWS WHAT I LIKE =-.

Sandy says:

Sounds good! Haven’t had manicotti in years. Think I might try this recipe.
.-= Sandy´s last blog ..Please Pass The Peas =-.

vodkamom says:

I LOVE this recipe. But, more importantly, I love the way you made me laugh out loud this morning.

now start jumping.

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