The first American pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn in 1848. I bet you thought it was an Italian that started the industry, you would be wrong! It was a Frenchman named Antoine Zerega. 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 the pasta is combined with vegetables, legumes, cheeses, olive oils, and fish, it is an added health advantage. To celebrate National Pasta Month, 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. It's hard to pick a favorite. In 2011, Americans named spaghetti as their favorite shape. So, celebrate pasta and gather with family and friends to take advantage of a delicious meal.
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.
To make the shells (crepes):
Ingredients: Makes about 24
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of water
Small amount of butter for pan
Put eggs in a blender, and 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 chopped
1 large egg
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinara or Meat Sauce
Directions for filling:
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 a flat surface or in your hand. Place about 1 tablespoonful of ricotta (more if the crepe is larger) into the center of the 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 the sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.
Till Next Time…….
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