Manicotti is an Italian American crepe filled with ricotta cheese mixed with cooked chopped spinach and sometimes minced veal, it is then topped with marinara sauce and a mixture of cheeses like Romano, Parmesan and or Mozzarella. A lot think that both are pasta well it’s not and here are some differences, manicotti are crepes and cannelloni are pasta, the size is different as well as Cannelloni tend to be smaller than manicotti and finally Cannelloni usually is prepared with béchamel while Manicotti uses red sauce.
From the explanation above you can now differentiate the two but in today’s kitchen the art of preparing a Manicotti is dying for the sake of convenience, there are ready made crepes and dried shells that you can buy in the supermarket some of which is already in a dried pasta from in a ribbed tube shape. Anyways I can’t blame them for doing it because nowadays time is quite precious so sometimes you have to do it the easiest way, like our recipe below.
For today we will be making some Manicotti but I am not using the crepe method neither the ready-made pasta as they are not available here in New Zealand, for today I will be using some fresh ready-made lasagne method.
- In a pan add oil then sauté garlic and onions.
- Add the minced beef and cook until it turns brown about 5 minutes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the chopped spinach then cook for 1 more minute or until spinach is wilted but not totally cooked. Turn heat off then let it cool.
- In a bowl combine ricotta, 1½ to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, ½ cup Parmesan and some parsley. Stir this to the cooled meat mixture.
- Prepare a big baking tray (13 x 9) then pour and distribute evenly 1 can of the chopped tomatoes in the bottom.
- Place a lasagne sheet in a clean surface, place 4 heaping tablespoons of the cheese and meat mixture near one edge then roll it like a spring roll without securing the sides. Place with the seam side down into the baking tray. Do it with the remaining sheets.
- Pour the last can of chopped tomatoes on top the cover with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Place in a 180C preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes or until top turns golden brown.