In keeping with the Italian tradition of a multi-course holiday meal, my dad often makes manicotti for his pasta course. These are different than the ones you might have had at a“red sauce” Italian joint. These are light, fluffy and delicious and perfect for any special occasion dinner in the fall and winter with our Cataclysm Pinot Noir.
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Since my dad doesn’t have a crêpe recipe and just eyeballs the consistancy, I give you the always reliable Julia Child crêpe recipe.
1 cup cold water
1 cup cold milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup flour
4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic
2 tbsp dried basil
1/4 tsp each thyme and marjoram
1 small onion
1 cup crushed/chopped tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
salt to taste
3 cups ricotta
2 whole eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup chopped steamed, drained chard
1 small ball mozzarella, thinly sliced
salt to taste
For Crêpes: In a bowl whisk together egg, milk, water and butter until combined well. Add flour, salt and whisk until smooth.
Heat a 6-to-8 inch crepe pan over moderately high heat until hot. Brush pan with oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Remove pan from heat. Stir batter and half fill a 1/4-cup measure with it. Pour batter into pan, tilting and rotating pan quickly to cover bottom with a thin layer of batter, and return any excess to bowl. Return pan to heat and loosen edge of crêpe with a spatula. Cook crêpe until underside is lightly browned. Turn crêpe and lightly brown other side. Transfer crêpe to a plate. Make more crêpes with remaining batter, brushing pan lightly with oil as necessary. (Crêpes may be made 1 day in ahead and chilled, stacked and wrapped well in plastic wrap.)
To make the sauce: Brown garlic and onion in olive oil until translucent, then add herbs. When garlic starts to brown, add wine and reduce until you no longer smell alcohol, then add tomatoes and chicken broth. Simmer until reduced by half. Salt to taste.
To make filling: Mix ricotta and eggs until smooth. Stir in chard, half of Parmesan and garlic powder. Salt to taste.
To assemble: Coat a shallow baking pan with vegetable oil and a thin layer of sauce. Lay out a crepe and place a 1” thick line of filling and roll up crêpe place in pan seam side down. Repeat with each crêpe. Cover all manicotti with a thin layer of sauce cover with mozzarella and the rest of the Parmesan. Bake at 350, pre-heated oven until mozzarella starts to brown. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.