Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Easy Sausage Manicotti

Pasta. Meat. Cheese. Sometimes it’s all we need. Just not too often.

This dish celebrates all three—hearty manicotti shells, spicy Italian sausage (or mild, if you prefer), and a bounty of cheese: sweet, creamy mascarpone; fruity asiago; and the sharp, salty king of hard cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The blend of rich flavors and textures in this dish belies its true simplicity. Cook up the sausage, blend in some cheese, stuff the shells, and bake, that’s it—simple and easy.

Note: If you don’t have asiago, substitute shredded provolone.

Also check out Beef Manicotti with Fresh Mozzarella and Garlic Bechamel and Veal Manicotti and Fresh Ricotta.

Serves 4

  • 8 manicotti shells
  • olive oil, for oiling dish, plus 1 tbsp
  • 3/4 lb hot or mild Italian sausage (removed from casings, if in links)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 oz mascarpone
  • 3-1/2 oz shredded asiago cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup canned tomato puree
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 tsp dried Italian herb mix (or dried oregano)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly oil a 13 X 9 baking dish.
  2. Cook the manicotti in boiling, salted water 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Rinsed Noodles
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sausage, garlic, and shallot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, crumbling the meat, until cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed, 10-12 minutes.
  2. Transfer the sausage mixture to a large bowl and let cool 10 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone, 2 ounces of asiago, and parsley. (Tip: To help determine how much of the sausage mixture to stuff in each shell, divide the total mixture into fourths, then spoon half of each fourth into a shell.) 
Sausage Mixture Beginning to Cook
Cooked Sausage Mixture 
Ready to Mix 
Sausage-Cheese Mixture
Divide the Mixture into Fourths
  1. Stuff the manicotti shells with 2-3 tablespoons of the sausage-cheese mixture. Lay the shells close together in the oiled baking dish.
  2. Spoon the tomato puree on top of the stuffed shells and scatter the remaining 1-1/2 ounces asiago and the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. Sprinkle with dried herb mix.
  3. Bake uncovered until the top begins to brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.
Stuffed Shells 
Top with Tomato Puree
Ready to Bake
Divide the manicotti among 4 plates and garnish with parsley.

Easy Sausage Manicotti

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