Tonight Chris and I found ourselves with an overabundance of Amish paste tomatoes from the garden, so we decided to make some manicotti. We wanted something a bit more interesting than plain cheese manicotti, so we decided to add some ground turkey and chopped mushrooms to the filling.
~10 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and pureed. We threw the tomatoes we had on the grill for a couple of minutes, then put them in a couple of ziplock bags, which actually is easier than blanching for us.
1 small can of tomato puree (if ya want, you can use a few more tomatoes, but we ran out, hence the puree)
1 small onion
1/4 of a Italian Roasting Pepper, roasted and peeled (small note on these: we grew these this year for the first time, and were rather surprised at how warm these pepper are. I cut the first one we tried, and ended up with a capsaicin burn on my hands and face, even though I washed my hands after handling the pepper. That lasted a couple of hours, although it felt like a couple of years. Chris also burned his hands after handling the roasted peppers, even though they tasted more mild. I have no idea what we have in the soil around here, but it results in killer peppers. Tasty pepper, but dangerous)
Salt and pepper
Puree the onion, and saute in some oil until nearly dry. Add the pureed tomatoes and pureed roasting pepper, as well as herbs and pepper. We got our most recent order from Penzey’s Spices, and we got some of their Tuscan Sunset seasoning, so we used that. Simmer until cooked. Adjust seasoning and keep warm.
1 lb Ground turkey
10 oz mushrooms
Large container of ricotta
1 cup of mixed shredded cheese
Brown turkey in pan, salt and pepper to taste. Once dry, remove and add the mushrooms to the pan. Add herbage (we used parsley and basil), and saute until nearly dry. Add to turkey and allow to cool slightly. Add cheeses and mix well. You’ll only need about two thirds of the mixture for the sleeves, so I beat the egg first in large bowl and moved a bit over half of the cheese and meat mixture into that, and mixed well.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and toss with a little oil to keep the sleeves from sticking to each other. Fill the sleeves with the meat mixture, and arrange in a baking dish. Pour the sauce over the sleeve, making sure it gets down between the sleeves. Top with some more shredded cheese, and bake for about 30 minutes until the cheese has browned and the sauce is bubbling. Remove and let rest at least 5 minutes before snarfing. Er. Eating.
These were some of the best manicotti we’ve had. The turkey is nice and lean and keeps the stuffing from getting too greasy, while still giving it a lovely flavor. The mushrooms also gave the filling a bit of earthiness and body without being overwhelming. The sauce was amazing as well. The pepper chunk we used gave the sauce a nice warmth, reminiscent of arrabbiata, but not quite as pointed due to the fruitiness and sweetness of the pepper as well. We are both sold on the Tuscan Sunset seasoning as well, as it has the balance we usually look for in Italian herbage (and is a great starting point to further refine the balance). All in all, a really tasty dish.