The earliest memory I have of Italian food was a little restaurant my parents used to take me to when I was very young. There was always an old lady there near the front door, chain-smoking at a small table. She seemed like a true boss and looking back I’m quite sure she owned the place. It’s a pleasant memory. I couldn’t stop staring at her in fascination every time we went. It’s so crazy to think that back in the ’80s people could smoke right next to you. Right next to five-year-old me. No one seemed to mind.
I remember checkered table clothes, candles in Chianti bottles and the best spaghetti and meatballs that I’ve ever had to this day. Over the years having an Italian uncle through marriage and also through my own explorations, I’ve had some amazing Italian cuisine. But this past Sunday my husband and I tried a new recipe for manicotti that we’ve never tried before. In fact, we’ve never tried making our own manicotti. Not to brag, but we knocked it out of the freakin’ park.
We used our DiCarlo’s homemade sauce, which I think added so much fresh tastiness overall. This manicotti made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. This manicotti was so delicious I slapped the table. It will now definitely be a staple in our recipe box. I think there were a couple of key things that made this recipe so good. First, ground beef from a cow raised on a farm near our home. We bought a quarter cow from Thompson and Sons All Natural Freezer Beef earlier this year in Corryton, TN. The second key… quality cheeses. We used Cabot this time around. Stuffing the manicotti was time-consuming but not difficult to do. The time and energy put into this recipe is well worth it.
Beef & Cheese Stuffed Manicotti
These manicotti’s are rich, creamy, and full of flavor, with the true taste of a small Italian restaurant in a Little Italy somewhere in a big city. This is a classic that you can’t go wrong with.
- 1 lb Ground beef
- 1/2 cup Onion, diced
- Salt & pepper
- 15oz Ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp Basil, fresh and finely chopped
- 1 box Manicotti pasta (12 pieces)
- Marinara sauce (we suggest a homemade version of DiCarlo’s Style Pizza Sauce)
- Brown the ground beef (chopping finely as it cooks) with the onion, salt, and pepper.
- Boil the manicotti in water with salt for 6 minutes, then remove and cool.
- Mix 1 cup of mozzarella and half of the parmesan with the ricotta and basil in a bowl.
- Mix the ground beef and onion into the cheese mixture.
- With a small spoon or melon baller, carefully stuff the mixture into the manicotti.
- Coat the bottom of a 9×13 dish with marinara and place the stuffed manicotti in the dish.
- Cover with marinara, and then with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
- Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.