Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pesto Veggie Manicotti

I make homemade bread once and all of a sudden - I'm a regular baker! KK and my Dad requested the homemade baguettes again and, since they weren't actually difficult to make, I obliged.  Also, I (not so) secretly wanted fresh bread myself because I knew it would be the perfect compliment to Friday night's Italian dinner. On a quick, unrelated note, my Dad had me try Cafe Solano by Peet's Coffee this morning.  It was a bit stronger than the Hazelnut Dunkin Donuts I'm used to, but it was still pretty good!

Back to dinner - which KK started asking about around 10AM today.  I prepped the manicotti while the bread baked, and things got a bit messy.  I tried to pipe the cheese mixture into the pasta using a Ziploc bag, but I struggled with that because the spinach kept getting caught on the bag.  I emptied the Ziploc back into the mixing bowl and filled the manicotti by hand.  The pasta tore a few times, but neither KK nor my Dad noticed once the dish was cooked, covered with sauce and cheese.  To complete the meal, we paired it with a 2007 Rulo Columbia Valley Syrah.  According to this review, this Syrah is "extremely dense, with deep and intense raspberry and cassis fruit flavor augmented with coffee grounds, smoke, and iron filings." Maybe that's why I had Peet's coffee on the brain?

Pesto Veggie Manicotti
Adapted from My Happy Meals
Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes

1 box of manicotti noodles
1/2 tsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup of grated carrots
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp of pesto
1 bag fresh baby spinach, torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp garlic powder
to taste: black pepper, salt, parsley, oregano, thyme
mozzarella cheese for topping
24 oz jar sauce

1. Cook manicotti according to package instructions.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.

3.  Saute onions, garlic, and carrots in a pan with 1/2 tsp of olive oil.

4. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, pesto, spinach, cooked veggies, and spices.

5. Cover the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish with a thin layer of sauce. 

6. Stuff the noodles gently with the cheese mixture and arrange in the pan.

7. Cover stuffed manicotti with the remaining sauce, and top with shredded mozzarella and parm cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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