- 1 package (8 ounces) whole wheat manicotti or cannelloni
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely choppped
- 2 celery stalks , finely chopped
- 1 carrot finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 -28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup finely chopped shallots
- 5 ounces of spinach, stemmed and chopped
- 1 ½ pounds (about 24 ounces) lowfat ricotta cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup chopped fresh soft herbs of choice, such as tarragon, parsley, and basil
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and add pasta. Stir well to prevent them from sticking together and cook until just al dente, usually 6 to 8 minutes. Drain and transfer partially cooked pasta to a large bowl of ice water. Once cooled, transfer to damp kitchen towels and cover until ready to assemble the cannelloni.
In a 4 quart saucepan heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat and saute onion until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 4 cloves of the minced garlic and cook for 20 seconds longer. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil and then immediately turn down to a simmer and cook the sauce until the tomatoes break down and the sauce starts to thicken, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. When the sauce is finished, remove from the heat and carefully blend with a hand held mixer.( Alternatively, sauce may be pureed in a blender, in batches, after it has cooled slightly. Take care in pureeing hot liquids; cover the blender tightly with a kitchen towel to prevent lid from coming up while pureeing.) Stir in the sun dried tomatoes and set aside until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium nonstick pan heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and the remaining garlic and sauté for about 6 seconds before adding the spinach and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook the spinach, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
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