Recipe: Grandma’s Manicotti

Cheese-filled crepes and a warm salad will satisfy in the cold weather

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By Brian Ricci

This month’s recipe for manicotti is based off of my grandmother’s. She used to make this most often for Sunday afternoon family dinner. With a great spread of food before us, we would gather around her big table and eat for what seemed like hours. The prep could be done the day before, leaving her time to spend outside of the kitchen with her children and grandchildren.

Crepes
Makes about 15 crepes

• 6 eggs

• 3¼ ounces all-purpose flour

• 1/2 cup water

• 1 tablespoon salt

• Pinch of parsley, chopped roughly

Process all the ingredients together in a food processor or whisk together until just combined. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. In a nonstick pan, add tablespoon of oil or butter and set the heat to medium. Ladle about 1 ounce of batter into the pan and swirl around to spread and coat the bottom of the pan. Allow the batter to cook evenly—this takes about 1 to 2 minutes. You are looking for the crepe batter to go from wet to dry—but no color. Then, take the crepe off using a spatula. I tend to do this project first and wrap them in bunches of 10 to keep them fresh.

Cheese Filling

• 2 pounds ricotta

• 5 eggs

• 4 ounces Parmesan, grated

• 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded

• 1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated

• Salt and pepper to taste

The filling is very straightforward. Simply mix these ingredients in a bowl using a spatula. When complete, fill each crepe with about 1/2 cup of the mixture by placing it 1/3 up from the bottom. Then roll the bottom end and tuck it underneath to create a cylinder of deliciousness. To finish, bake in a Pyrex or baking dish lined with olive oil in a 350 F oven for 20 to 30 minutes to set the egg mixture. Modifications: You can add some simple tomato sauce to the manicotti just before baking. For the winter, try adding braised greens, mashed sweet potatoes, or even pickled peppers or onions for a more nourishing or robust flavor.