This was the first time I ever tried making manicotti. I hadn't eaten it in several years and my husband had never had it before. After eating this dish, we couldn't believe what we were missing. I had a lot of fun assembling this dish and the results were fantastic. This is sure to become a family favorite with us. Hope you'll enjoy it as well!Source: Apple a Day, adapted from Giada de Laurentis
4 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
salt and freshly ground black pepper14 (8 oz. package) manicotti
1 (15 oz.) container whole-milk ricotta (I used part-skim)2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. grated Parmesan2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (I used dry parsley flakes)
2 garlic cloves, minced3 c. marinara sauce
2 tbsp. butter, cut into pieces
Directions:Heat a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. of the olive oil, onion, and ground beef. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the meat browns and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain the drippings, and cool.
Brush 1 tsp. of oil over a large baking sheet. Cook the manicotti in a large pot of boiling salted water until slightly softened, but still very firm to the bite, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the manicotti from the pot to the oiled baking sheet and cool.Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 c. mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c. Parmesan, and parsley. Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and mix. Stir the cooled meat mixture into the cheese mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the remaining 2 tsp. of oil over a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish. Spoon 1 1/2 cups of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish.Fill the manicotti with the cheese-meat mixture. Arrange the stuffed pasta in a single layer in the prepared dish and spoon the remaining sauce over.
Sprinkle the remaining 1 c. of mozzarella cheese, then the remaining 1/4 c. Parmesan over the stuffed pasta. Dot entire dish with the butter pieces. Bake the manicotti uncovered until heated through and the sauce bubbles on the sides of the dish, about 35 minutes. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.