Easter Means Homemade Manicotti

When I was a kid, my mom always made her special “Italian Meatloaf” for Easter. Ha! It was basically the same meatballs she made every Thursday, only stuffed with mozzarella cheese. I can’t even remember any other Easter dish she made. Later, when I offered to make Easter dinner as a young adult, she seemed happy to let me take over the holiday dinner.

Around this time, a friend gave me a recipe for homemade manicotti — what a perfect pairing with my mom’s Italian meatloaf!

When making manicotti — which have shells that are like crepes — the hotter the pan gets and the quicker you get at twirling the pans, the better they turn out. Before you know it, you feel like a pro turning out paper-thin shells. As the years have gone by, we went from making these manicotti at mom’s house to making them at my house. Now a tradition in my family for almost 40 years, my children and I prepare these melt-in-your-mouth pillows of cheesy deliciousness and share love and memories of Easters past.

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Easter Means Homemade Manicotti

Recipe by Madeline Basler, MS, RDN, CDN

Ingredients
Shells

  • 6 eggs
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 2 pounds part-skim ricotta
  • 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded
  • ⅓ cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Fresh grated Parmesan

Directions

  1. Start by making the shell batter. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, flour, water and salt. Using an electric mixer, mix until smooth. Let stand for 30 minutes or longer.
  2. Heat an 8-inch non-stick pan on high heat. (I use two pans at a time, otherwise you will be there all day!)
  3. Pour approximately 3 tablespoons of the batter into the hot pan, rotating the skillet to spread the batter. The technique is just like making crepes.
  4. When the manicotti shell’s top is dry and the bottom is not yet brown, flip. Transfer cooked shells onto a wire rack to cool.
  5. Continue with the remaining batter. Stack finished shells with wax paper squares in between each shell.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. Make the filling by combining ricotta, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, eggs, salt, pepper and parsley in a large bowl. Stir with wooden spoon.
  8. Fill each shell with a large dollop — approximately 1 heaping tablespoon — of cheese mixture in the middle. Pull up the sides and pinch them in the middle. Pour marinara on the bottom of a baking pan. Place prepared manicotti on marina and pour remaining marinara over manicotti. Top with grated Parmesan.
  9. Bake uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes. Makes 20 manicotti.

Cooking Note

  • If preferred, use half all-purpose and whole-wheat flour in the shells: ¾ cup all-purpose flour and ¾ cup whole-wheat flour
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Madeline Basler
Madeline Basler, MS, RDN, CDN, is a clinical registered dietitian nutritionist, writer and owner of Real You Nutrition, a nutrition counseling, recipe development and consulting practice, in Long Island, NY. Madeline has won awards for her writing, and a culinary scholarship. She is an avid cook, and fitness enthusiast, loves to travel and entertain. Read her blog and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.


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