My first night home after being away for a week, and what do I decide to make? Manicottis stuffed with a sweet Italian Sausage stuffing.... Call me crazy, but when I get a hankerin' for something, I will do whatever it takes! This recipe is not difficult at all, just a little time-consuming. Worth it? Absolutely.
I first get the sauce going. This is my go-to recipe for no-fail delicious sauce.
1 large can of stewed tomatoes
1/2 large Vidalia onion roughly cut
1 stick of butter
salt and pepper
Simmer covered for about 30 minutes. When the onions are nice and tender, remove from the heat and use a hand blender to puree. Add some Parmesan cheese and do a taste test....add salt and pepper if needed. Feel free to add whatever else you would like..... fresh basil, spinach, mushrooms, olives....
The next step is mix and refrigerate your crepe batter. I found a recipe from Alton Brown that never lets me down. Combine the following in a blender:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tbs melted butter
Pulse for about 10 seconds. You don't want to mix it too much. Put in the refrigerator (this step is key to cooking them perfectly) until you are ready to cook them.
Now for the filling. Remove the casings, break up and cook the sausage (I used 6 sausages). Drain off the fat and combine with 1 container of Ricotta cheese. Sprinkle in some parsley, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Set this mixture aside and start cooking your crepes. Use a small Teflon pan sprayed with a little oil. Pour just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook until set, then flip and cook for about 20 more seconds. I think a Silicone spatula works best when flipping because it is soft and can mold to the shape of the pan. This recipe makes approximately 8-10 crepes, so if you are feeding an army, you might want to double it. Once you have them all cooked, you are ready to stuff and roll.....
Ladle some of your sauce in your casserole dish. Place each rolled manicotti over the sauce. Add more sauce on top. A little grated cheese to finish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
Every bite is pure heaven.....Using crepes are so much easier to stuff than the pasta manicottis that come in a box, and the flavor is amazing. Once you make them this way, you will never go back to pasta!