Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Taste of Italy

This is one of my favorite dinners! Not only is it really yummy but the picky eater I live with loves it too! The sauce part of the recipe is something that I've played with for a while and happy to share. We like to make our own pasta sauce since we don't eat pasta enough to buy a big jar of it. Creating your own sauce is fun! It allows you to play with flavors and spices and discover new tastes. In particular it allows me to use some of the basil I grow and pop open a lovely bottle of wine to cook and drink! So, open up that spice cabinet a create something marvelous!

Spinach Manicotti in Creamy Tomato Sauce


Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 manicotti shells (I like to use whole grain)
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
8oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 of a lemon zested
5oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Pasta sauce (recipe follows)
1tbsp. heavy cream

1.      In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1/4 cup parmesan, spinach and lemon zest. (I like to put this together either the night before or in the morning. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the flavors to combine together.)
2.      Cook shells as directed on box. Once they are cooked and drained, place in a greased or oiled baking dish so they stick together and rip.
3.      Put prepared filling in a plastic bag, zip closed and cut off one of the bottom corners. Pipe filling into both sides of each shell and place back in pan.
4.      Mix pasta sauce and heavy cream in a separate bowl. Pour sauce evenly over shells and top with the last 1/4 cup of parmesan.
5.      Bake on 375 for at least 30 minutes or until sauce in the center of the dish is bubbling and parmesan has browned. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Serve with some buttered and seasoned French bread or a lovely garden salad.

McCune's Pasta Sauce

1-      8oz can tomato sauce (I like to use one that has some Italian herbs already in it)
1-      8oz can tomato puree
1 can of diced tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes diced
Red wine (I like to use a Shiraz but Merlot works well too)
Italian herb seasoning
Fresh basil
A pinch of Celery salt
1.      In a sauce pan combine all ingredients.
2.      Let simmer until diced tomatoes have broken down.

Note: If you like a light sauce do not use the tomato puree

Enjoy this little taste of Italy!

1 comment:

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