On one of the first trips to my in-laws, before Lou and I were married, my mother-in-law-to-be Rita Cinquino served manicotti. I had never, ever tasted anything so good before. And as much as I loved my husband back then, I have to say the manicotti might have sealed the deal. It certainly was a major factor in my lifetime commitment to him. She served it with soft, squishy, white garlic bread too.

It’s a bit of an effort to make, but so worth it. The secret is that the manicotti shell is made like a crepe. You’ll need about 4 cups of tomato sauce to go with this recipe.

Homemade Italian Manicotti

Ingredients for the manicotti shells

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
Directions
  1. With a mixer or whisk, mix the eggs and water.
  2. With a mixer or whisk, mix the eggs and water.
  3. Add the flour and stir with a whisk. With a ladle, pour into a small oiled skillet and make as many crepes as the batter allows (maybe about 10).
  4. Pile them on a plate; they won’t stick together.
Ingredients for the manicotti filling
  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 egg
  • A few sprigs chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Fill each manicotti shell with filling and roll it up (like a cigar). Set aside.
  3. Add some tomato sauce to the bottom of a casserole dish.
  4. Layer the manicotti in the pan.
  5. Add the rest of the sauce on top. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven until it’s bubbly.

You can also freeze the manicotti separately in plastic bags to cook later in the season. I’ve got 11 in the freezer right now!

This article was reprinted with permission. For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.