The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

 Homemade Spinach Manicotti
 with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Ah, manicotti with homemade pasta and tomato sauce...
I mean, pasta stuffed with spiced up ricotta, then covered in garden fresh
herbed tomato sauce. This makes me happy :)

What you will need:

For the sauce
3 pounds fresh tomatoes
(I used 1 1/2 pounds mini and 1 1/2 pound medium)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable stock
1 large bunch fresh basil, leaved coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon agave or honey
Blender and heavy stock pot

For the pasta
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
1 tablespoons olive oil
(Note: I doubled this and made fettuccine as well)
Large cutting board, rolling pin, pasta machine (optional)
and extra flour for dusting

For the filling 
15 Ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups fresh mozzarella, grated
2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
(for topping)
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
Pinch of flake salt, or fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons juniper berry, dried and ground
or freshly ground pepper
1 large bunch baby spinach, leaves

Let's get cooking:

For the sauce
To start with we are going to take our tomatoes, placing them in a large stock pot
 of water. Bring water to a boil and allow to a rolling boil. Reduce heat just slightly to
 prevent an over-boil at this point. Continue to gently boil until you see the skins of your
tomatoes begin to wrinkle and peel. Remove your tomatoes and place in a large bowl
 of chilled water and cool to the touch. Meanwhile take your butter and oil and place
 in a sauté pan, heating until butter has melted. Now add your onion and garlic,
allowing them to come to a nice deep golden brown.

Once you have peeled/seeded your tomatoes your, place them in a medium to large
French/Dutch oven (or crock if cooking overnight). Now add your herbs, wine, agave,
salt and pepper. Then allow to simmer for several hours.
  Note: If using several on the smaller tomatoes like I did, you can Purée these
 with skins intact, then add to your sauce.

For the pasta
Begin by placing all of your flours and salt in the center of your cutting board.
With a fork, mix these up a bit. Then create a mound from your flour, now
create a creator by using your fist in the center of you flour mold.

Add eggs and oil to the center of your creator and gently start
to fold your flour over the eggs with the fork. Continue to do this until
just incorporated. Flour your board and hands a bit and begin to
kneed until your dough becomes stiff and stretchy. Cover with a cotton
 towel or cheese cloth. Let it sit for about 30 minutes or so.

Place your dough on a dusted flour board and kneed again 3-4 times or
until it feels workable. Taking a floured rolling pin roll out to a disk shape
and cut into 2 or 3 more workable sections. Roll these sections out into
long thin strips and cut sides to fit to the pasta machine. Starting with the
highest setting, pull through the machine. Continue to do this until you
have reached the second to last setting.Then lay out flat on a clean
surface to prepare for filling.

For the filling
Place all of your ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Stir until mixture is completely incorporated.

Assemble your manicotti by placing 3-4 tablespoon in the center of your
prepared pasta, add a layer of fresh spinach starting at the edge and leaving an
inch or so edge. Pulling up that edge gently roll or fold until the edge meets the
other side. Leaving an additional inch, the cut away this section from your length
of pasta sheet. Tuck or fold the ends to create a tube.

Place stuffed manicotti in a lightly greased baking dish.
Cover with sauce and fresh mozzarella slices.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8

Alisha~Magic of Spice

Remember to stop by and check out April's Your Best Recipe 

This is going over to Fresh, Clean and Pure Fridays 

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