Thursday, October 20, 2011

Benvenuti! Celebrate, World Pasta Day, With "Homemade Manicotti"


Benvenuti! Welcome everyone, to my table, and lets eat pasta, pasta, and more pasta! Why, you ask? Because October 25th is World Pasta Day. The objective of World Pasta Day, now in its 16th year, is to draw the attention of the media and the consumers to pasta. The fact is that pasta is a global food, which is consumed in all five continents. Another purpose of World Pasta Day is to encourage the nutritional and culinary advantages of pasta. The World Pasta Congress held a meeting in Rome, Italy, on October 25,1995. Delegations from various countries discussed together the theme of pasta consumption, exchanging their ideas and experiences. After two years, in 1997, World Pasta Day was created, to recall and enhance the first event that took place with the international pasta community.

The International Pasta Organization (IPO) invites families, chefs and restaurants around the world to gather friends and loved ones and cook up their favorite pasta dish for health, taste, and convenience. Pasta is enriched with vitamin-B which is necessary for cell formation, mental alertness, and energy conservation, plus it is very helpful in boosting the immune system. When pasta is combined with vegetables, legumes, cheeses, olive oils and fish, it is an added health advantage.

To celebrate World Pasta Day, it is suggested that you try a new pasta. There are 600 shapes and flavors produced worldwide, including many whole grain options, as well as gluten free. But, watch your portions. Americans tend to overload their plates. A healthy portion of pasta is one to two cups cooked (1 cup of cooked pasta is about 200 calories). When eaten in the proper portions and in combination with healthy foods, pasta does not cause weight gain. Another way to enjoy pasta is to go meatless, try a hearty vegetable and bean soup or pasta with seasonal vegetables like cauliflower, or even pumpkin for a perfect fall meal. World Pasta Day is a great incentive to prepare a healthy pasta meal by getting creative in your kitchen. So, celebrate pasta and gather with family and friends to take advantage of a delicious meal.

As you prepare pasta for your World Pasta Day, I would love to share a few tips with you:
1. Use lots of water when cooking pasta. Do not add oil. Stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking together.
2. Pasta is ready when it’s “al dente.” It should be cooked completely through, yet firm enough to offer some resistance to your bite.
3. Many pasta shapes come in different sizes. The Italian suffix “ini” means smaller
(example: spaghettini is a thin version of spaghetti), while “oni” means larger.

1956, my dad's side of the family
From the left: my dad holding me and
my mom is bending in front of him

Being an Italian-American, pasta is a big part of our family gatherings. I remember on Sundays we would have the whole family over and “macaroni” as we called it, was on the menu for the day. We would wonder what type of pasta would my mom cook for that particular Sunday dinner. My personal favorites are shells and angel hair, or capellini. The shells always held the sauce in the little pocket and was fun to eat. The angel hair, is much thinner than spaghetti, it also cooks very fast. My recipe this week is one that my mother taught me how to make, which are like pillows of soft cheese in your mouth. Homemade Manicotti is so delectable that you won’t mind some extra time in the kitchen creating these scrumptious crepes. Buon Gusto!! (enjoy)


Homemade Manicotti Shells (crepes) and Filling

To make the shells (crepes):

Ingredients: Makes about 24
8 Eggs
2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon of salt
1 cup of water
Small amount of Butter / oil for pan
Directions:
Put eggs in a blender, then add water and salt. Then add flour a little at a time as you are blending together. Brush melted butter or a bit of oil in your sauté pan and pour batter into the pan, ( I use a shot glass to measure out the amount of batter ) tilting to coat the bottom of the pan (you want a very thin crepe). Cook only until the underside is lightly browned and is just set, then turn and cook the other side. Invert onto plate; continue until you have about 24 depending on the size of the crepe.
You can freeze these crepes till you are ready to use. Make sure you use a piece of wax paper in between them before you freeze, so it is easier to take apart without breaking the crepes.

The Filling for the crepes:
3 lb container of part skim or whole milk Ricotta
1 lb part skim or whole milk Mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
Fresh Parsley flakes
1 large egg
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinara or Meat Sauce (if you need an easy tomato sauce, check out my mom’s recipe on my blog post of August 18th)

Directions:
1. Mix ricotta, cheese, parsley, and salt. Taste. Adjust seasoning according to taste and then stir in one egg.
2. Slice mozzarella into small bite size pieces. Then add to the mixture of ricotta etc. Mix all together.
3. Lay crepe on flat surface or in your hand. Place about 1 tablespoon of ricotta (more if larger crepe) into the center of crepe and spread out to edges. Fold one edge halfway over and then fold the other side to form a packet. They should be sort of flat.
4. Spread a layer of sauce onto a baking pan. Lay manicotti side by side and arrange them until the pan is filled. Add another layer of sauce on top and sprinkle with grated cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes and sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Till Next Time…….
 
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3 comments:

  1. Hi, Thanks for commenting. I am glad that you enjoyed reading my blog and my recipe. Yes, you have to try it. It is really very delicious and not that hard to prepare.

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  2. Actual pasta names v/s what we call them in our head. Go on, order some pasta @ zaykedaar.com

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