I decided after our Christmas ham was largely left uneaten after Christmas dinner that hams are not a great choice for our small family. Thus, when I planned our Easter dinner, I told my husband and our one son who was able to come home that we’d be having my manicotti instead. Manicotti is a dish I’ve been making for years (albeit without homemade pasta). Everyone seems to enjoy it. After all, why do we feel we have to “follow” what “most” people make for holiday meals? I’ve never been a trend follower and despite most of our traditions being food-related, I made the executive decision to change from ham to manicotti for Easter this year.
The manicotti recipe is from Taste of Home and can easily be found online, here. If it were up to my husband though, he’d claim it as an old family recipe! We did have a slight problem finding manicotti shells and ended up having to make an extra trip to a different grocery store in our area. Success with finding shells at the second store was made and Saturday afternoon, I made the manicotti.
This recipe uses two kinds of meat, ground beef, and ground Italian sausage. It is garlicky and cheesy, having three types of cheese – mozzarella, cream cheese, and parmesan. The mozzarella and cream cheese are in the stuffing along with the meat. The parmesan gets sprinkled on top.
One tip I can pass on is to not overcook your shells. You want them just to be al dente. If they are too soft (or well-cooked) it is easier to break the shell when you stuff them with the meat and cheese mixture. I cooked them for just seven minutes and then removed them and rinsed them in cold water to stop the cooking process. They held up great – even better than ever before. I attribute part of this success to using Barilla brand shells rather than Creamette brand shells. The Barilla brand shells were what was available at the second grocery store. I might never use the Creamette brand again.
We serve our meaty manicotti with garlic bread and a salad. It is a yummy holiday, or every day, meal especially when Easter is a cold day like it was this year.
Ciao! Mangia bene!