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(Serves 6 to 8 with 2 manicotti per serving)
Manicotti are sleeves of pasta that are stuffed with a cheese, meat, or vegetable filling.  Our recipe uses savory crespelle, or Italian crepes, in place of the pasta.  The crespelle make a more tender and creamy manicotti.  You can use the same filling with store bought manicotti or jumbo shells and proceed with baking them in the same manner.  The crespelle take about the same amount of time to make as to boil the ready-made pasta tubes.  Try this recipe using the crespelle and you will be amazed at the wonderful results.

Crespelle (Crepes):
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Olive oil

2 pounds whole or part-skim ricotta
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

3 cups Traditional Tomato Sauce
Grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling


To make the crespelle:
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, salt, and water until smooth.
If you prefer, you can combine the ingredients in a blender.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat an 8-inch omelet or crepe pan over medium heat.  Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and swirl it around the bottom of the pan.  Holding the pan in one hand, spoon in about 1/4 cup of the batter.  Rotate the pan to completely cover the bottom with the batter.  Each crepe should be about 5 to 6-inches in diameter. Cook for about 30 seconds.  The edges of the crepe will lift away from the pan.  Shake the pan to check if the crepe is loose to turn over. With a spatula, flip the crepe over and cook for another 20 - 30  seconds.  The crepe should be very pale in color on both sides.  Transfer the cooked crepes to a plate separated with waxed paper.

Continue making the crepes, adding a teaspoon of oil before starting each crepe.  If you are using a non-stick pan you won’t need to add more oil for each crepe.  The crepes are ready to be stuffed or may be refrigerated for later use.  The crepes can be made up to 2 days ahead.

To make the filling:
Combine all of the filling ingredients together in a large bowl.. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To assemble the manicotti:

Spoon a thin layer of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Working with one crepe at a time, add about 1/4 cup of the filling about  2-inches from the bottom edge of the crepe. Roll the bottom edge up over the filling and continue rolling, not too tightly, to the opposite side. Place the crepe, seam-side-down, in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining crepes and filling.  Place the filled crepes close together in the baking dish.  Spoon on the remaining sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cover the baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the cover and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes.  The sauce should be bubbling and the manicotti heated through.  Allow the manicotti to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Serve manicotti with a salad or vegetable and some crusty Italian bread.
We like to serve manicotti with Chicken Florentine Meatballs.
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