Yesterday, my husband and I, along with our furry children, went on a hike to find some waterfalls during a soaking rain. It was a new area, that we had never explored, but I had heard that during a rain, the most magnificent waterfalls occur. The hike was pretty slow going, as I am not used to hiking in raw elements and my footing was slippery on some of the rocks. On top of that, we didn’t bring a map and went the wrong way. Rookie mistake, I know.
When my Dad was alive, I used to hike with him back in the woods and he always taught me to follow a river bed, if you have one, that way you never get lost. The problem was there was a fork in the road and well, to make a long story short, we took the road less traveled and it didn’t make all the difference. After two hours of hiking, the rain had started to penetrate through our clothing and so we gave up and headed back home.
When we got back, Hubbie plopped down on the couch and turned on the football game. Not being that interested in football, I decided to start my own project, manicotti. This was such a yummy treat after being out in the elements, soaked to the bone, all afternoon.
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese or one 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
12 No Boil lasagna noodles
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cubed (1/4 inches) fresh mozzarella (about 6 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1 1/4 cups; optional)
Whisk the eggs and salt together in a large bowl until foamy. Add the ricotta, the mozzarella cubes, 1/2 cup of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese, the parsley, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well until blended.
Pour about 4 cups boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broilersafe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Pour out hot water and add cold water to noodles to prevent sticking.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with tomato sauce. Working with one noodle at a time, spoon 3 full tablespoons of the ricotta filling about 1 inch from the edge closest to you. Roll loosely into a cylinder, smoothing out the filling along the length of the tube as you roll.
Arrange the manicotti, seam side down and side-by-side, over the sauce in the baking pans. Spoon the remaining sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle them with the remaining 1/2 cup of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Bake 20 minutes. Scatter the grated mozzarella, if using, over the top of the manicotti and bake until the edges are bubbling and the cheese topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.