They say you should never go the market when you're hungry because you will over buy. But I think you should always be a little hungry because your hunger gets the creative juices flowing. I've put together lots of interesting dishes while shopping on an empty stomach.
I found these great "rigatoni giganti" at my local market and thought they'd be fun to stuff like manicotti. The bite sized pastas would fit perfectly in my au gratin dishes and make a pretty presentation. So I splurged and bought the package. I knew I had goat cheese, parmesan and mozzarella at home, so I just needed to fill in with some ricotta and fresh herbs. And here's what I came up with.
Mini Manicotti with Goat Cheese
- 1 cup goat cheese
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 TBS finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 TBS finely chopped fresh basil
- 8 oz. (1/2 pkg.) rigatoni giganti (or manicotti shells)
- 32 oz. pasta sauce, jar or home made (I used this)
Preheat oven to 350º.
Cook the pasta until it is one minute short of al dente. The package called for 13 minutes and I cooked mine for 11 minutes. You don't want these to tear, so keep them on the firm side. They will cook further when they are baked. Drain and set aside to cool a bit.
note: I actually counted out 36 rigatoni, because I figured around 5 per serving and a few extra to allow for breakage.
In a medium bowl, mix together the cheeses, egg, salt, pepper, herbs and nutmeg. Mix well until creamy.
Ladle some pasta sauce to cover the bottom of each au gratin dish, or a large casserole dish.
Spoon the cheese filling into a large zip lock bag and cut a hole in a corner. Squeeze to pipe the cheese mixture into each shell.
Arrange the stuffed manicotti over the sauce and ladle more sauce over the top. Sprinkle with some mozzeralla.
Bake, covered with foil for 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 10 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
The resulting manicotti was rich and creamy with a nice tang from the goat cheese. It was so easy to put together and fit for company. Definitely a keeper!