Sunday, June 29, 2008

New use for no-boil noodles...

We were not able to get a proper garden in this year, but our goal is to take the time to get a couple beds set up for next year. We did toss in a few plants here or there to try and grow some fresh vegetables...

That was the plan anyway until the evil wrath of this cute, but very mean, bunny came along. I mean really, it has a whole big yard of stuff to eat and the little guy had to come eat my little plants? I'm calling this offender #1:

I'll spare our now naked pepper plants of their humiliating photographs, but needless to say, I don't think we will be getting many jalapeƱos this year! Oh, and by the way, said bunny has morphed into a family of 5 that are often seen traipsing through the backyard, giggling like little school girls with full bellies! And, as you can imagine, I even caught someone (I wonder who?) out there with a few carrots trying to lure offender #2 in to say hello! Arrgh!

We prepared a total of 9 new-to-us recipes this round - our stand-outs this time where those Maple-Cinnamon Granola Bars, the Pork Tacos with Corn-Jicama Salsa and Guacamole and those Almond Roca Cookies.

Stuffing manicotti can sometimes be a little troubling or fussy, but tonight's Baked Manicotti with Prosciutto uses a new technique that was pretty slick. Making a basic homemade sauce was the first order of business tonight. Regular diced tomatoes would be fine for this sauce, but we opted to use our favorite fire-roasted version to start off with a bang. To keep the flavor clean, the only other ingredients in the sauce are olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and a little fresh basil.

Instead of working with those tubular shells or trying to use fresh pasta, the recipe has you soften very accessible no-boil noodles to use for the pasta. The noodles are added to a dish of boiling water - after you slide them in, you should move them around after a minute or so to prevent them from sticking together. Once they were flexible (this only takes about 5 minutes), we transferred them to a clean towel to drain away excess water and covered them so they didn't dry out.

For the trio of cheeses in the filling, a combination of smooth ricotta cheese, sharp Parmesan and shredded mozzarella are mixed with an egg, parsley and fresh basil. To assemble this stuffed pasta dish, the no-boil sheets are laid out, a thin slice of salty prosciutto is draped over the top and a generous dollop of the cheese filling is added and smeared over the prosciutto. Once rolled up, the pasta is set upon a bed of the delicious sauce with additional sauce poured on top to ensure they stay very moist. You could prepare this whole recipe in a regular baking dish, but we used those fancy dishes that we used when we made those homemade lasagnas to make these individual style with two manicotti each. Once they have thoroughly cooked through, each serving got a shower of additional Parmesan cheese and was placed under the broiler to turn a little crusty and brown. While this recipe did have a few steps to it, the process moved right along and I loved how well the components worked with each other. The pasta was tender, but still firm enough to hold its shape and was not mushy at all. Need to serve more than four? This saucy recipe will easy double - just use a 9" x 13" baking dish to bake them in.


  1. I think that bunny's twin is living in (and chomping on) my garden. Cute, yes, but oh so frustrating. Fortunately he does not seem to be going for the herbs, yet. He's sticking to the perennials.

  2. That manicotti looks delicious- and not too heavy either.

    So sad about the pepper plants...sounds like Jeff needs a time out or something for bad behavior. ;-)

  3. The method you used was one I recently saw on America's Test Kitchen. It looks so lush and yum.

  4. Bunny sighting! How delightful. But... yes, i can see the chomping and willful destruction of plants would be very upsetting. Sorry about the casualty of all that cuteness!

    (fond of bunnies)

  5. Looks easier than my normal method. I like the bunny. We have six baby bunnier running around our house. They are so cute.

  6. Sorry about your pepper plants. And keep the carrots away from Max. :)

    I have a family of four bunnies and a family of three chipmunks in my backyard. They're really cute, but I sure am glad I don't have a vegetable or herb garden.

    Oh, yeah...the manicotti looks divine, too.

  7. I was reading this in the office today, laughing like a fool over how horrified you must have been when Jeff brought out the carrots! Everyone wanted to know what was so funny and I shared the story, so we all had a good laugh at the expense of your pepper plants!

    I also was asked to print out the recipe. I actually made it tonight. On a Monday. After a long commute. It was so easy! I am a huge fan of those no boil noodles - tastes a lot like home made pasta to me. I added some Genoa salami because I love it.....

  8. I feel badly for your garden, we used to have the same trouble, but now we have "raised beds" and no more animal interference. I think they don't like to climb. Also certain herbs planted on the periphery of the garden will help.
    The manicotti looks delicious, will try that his week. Thanks Joe, Rita

  9. Lydia - I hope your little invader keeps away from the plants!

    Erika - I so agree!

    PO - Yes, that is where the recipe originated from!

    Seamaiden - I used to show bunnies growing up, but now I'm starting to regret that!

    Helene - Inside?

    Mindy - Hee hee!

    Quinn - I'm glad someone got a kick out of it! Thanks for trying out the recipe too!

    Rita - Raised beds may be just the ticket for us next year!

  10. Great method and delicious looking manicotti! I am very hungry right now.

  11. I have a couple of those cute looking devils in my garden too. In fact, my pole bean trellises now look like BeanCatraz. They're completely surrounded by wire fencing. All I need is razor wire spirals around the top for affect. And who knew the little buggers love peppers so much. But alas, a fox has begun cruising my neighborhood. I don't think I'm gonna have a bunny problem for long.

  12. Anon - maybe we can borrow your fox!

  13. I received this recipe in an email from a recipe group I'm subscribed to. They found it on Recipezaar, crediting America's Test kitchen. So I googled to see if any food bloggers had tried it and i found you :) I plan to try this, glad to hear it was so good!

  14. Amanda - this is a good dish! Enjoy.