NOTE FROM ATK:
We prefer Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles for their delicate texture resembling fresh pasta. Note that Pasta Defino and Ronzoni brands contain only 12 no-boil noodles per package; the recipe requires 16 noodles.Serves 6 to 8
The manicotti can be prepared through step 5, covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
Tomato Sauce Ingredients
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes (in juice) [Liz: can I use crushed tomatoes...?]
2 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, optional
2 Tbls chopped fresh basil
Cheese Filling and Pasta Ingredients
3 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbls chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 Tbls chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (see note above)
See Illustrations about rolling the manicotti
1. For the Sauce: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to bowl. Repeat with remaining can tomatoes. Set aside.
2. Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt.
3. For the cheese filling: Combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in medium bowl; set aside.
4. To assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking (see link above). Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.
5. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1-1/2 cups sauce. Using soup-spoon [and on a cutting board], spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (set vertically in front of you, with short side facing you), leaving top part of noodle expose [about a quarter of the whole noodle] (see link above). Roll into manicotti-style tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered.
6. Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil. Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element), and heat broiler. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.
Step-by-Step: Manicotti 1, 2, 3
1. Soak no-boil lasagna noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes until pliable, using tip of paring knife to separate noodles and prevent sticking.
2. Using soup-spoon, spread about 1/4 cup filling onto three-quarters of each noodle, leaving top quarter of noodle exposed.
3. Roll each noodle by hand and place in baking dish, seam side down.