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Crepe-Style Vegetable Manicotti

(Four servings - 2 per person)
Manicotti may sound like a heavy meal but using the crepes in this recipe along with the vegetables filling makes the manicotti light and tender.  You can use regular store-bought manicotti shells but, if you have the time, try it with the crepes ... it makes such a difference.  For the vegetable filling , you can add whatever vegetables you like; chopped broccoli would be nice, or spinach and mushrooms, or even chopped artichoke hearts.

1 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
Olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small zucchini, finely diced
1 small yellow squash, finely diced
Salt and pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

2 cups tomato puree
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)


To make the crepes: (Makes about 8 to 10 crepes)
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:
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic, zucchini and squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened but not mushy, about 3-4 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool.

Once the vegetable mixture has cooled, stir in the ricotta, Parmesan, egg and parsley; season with salt and pepper. 

To make the sauce:
Put the tomato puree in a bowl. Season it with salt and pepper and stir in the basil.

To assemble and bake the manicotti:
Preheat the oven to 375⁰ F.
Spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13-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 to the opposite side.
Place the crepe, seam-side-down, in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining crepes and filling.

Spread the remaining sauce over the crepes in the baking dish and evenly spread the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese toppings on top.  Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.  Let stand for 10 minutes, scatter some chopped parsley over the top and serve. 
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