Friday, October 16, 2015

Celebrate the Pasta-bilities....With “Mama’s Homemade Manicotti”

Beneventi! Welcome everyone, to my table, and let’s eat pasta, pasta, and more pasta! Did you know that October is “National Pasta Month?” Thirty-one days devoted to enjoying America's favorite food! It is estimated that pasta lovers eat their favorite food seven times a month - nearly twice a week! It shouldn't surprise anyone that when asked what food they could not live without 60% of those surveyed chose pasta, even instead of chocolate! Bringing American families exactly what they are looking for. Pasta is a versatile dish which can easily fit into a healthy lifestyle. It boosts energy, satisfies hunger, tastes great, and can be prepared in a numerous ways. Pasta is a global food, which is consumed in all five continents.

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 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.

As you prepare your pasta I have a few tips for 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.

Being an Italian-American, pasta is a big part of our family gatherings. I remember on Sundays my parents would invite the whole family over and “macaroni” as we called it, was on the menu for the day. The question everyone wanted to know was what type of pasta would my mom cook for our Sunday dinner? My personal favorites are Shells, Angel hair or Capellini, and Linguine. The Shells always held the sauce in the little pockets 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. “Mama’s Homemade Manicotti” is so delectable that you won’t mind some extra time in the kitchen creating these scrumptious crepes. Buon Gusto!! (Enjoy)

“Mama’s Homemade Manicotti”

To make the shells (crepes):

Ingredients:   Yields: about 24
8 Eggs
2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon of salt
1 cup of water
Small amount of Butter or oil for pan                                 

Put eggs in a blender or food processor, and then add water and salt. Now 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:
Mix ricotta, cheese, parsley, and salt. Taste. Adjust seasoning according to taste and then stir in one egg. Slice mozzarella into small bite size pieces. Then add to the mixture of ricotta etc. Mix all together. 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. 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. Bake at 350° F for 25-30 minutes and sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

Wine suggestion:
You can add a bottle of Red Wines to your pasta dinner. My suggestion would be a Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is the name of both the grape and the wine it produces. ...Italian Chianti which is a strong, bold red wine that is perfectly suited for flavorful, well-seasoned sauces...A Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, or even a Pinot Grigio would all work very well and be very tasty.

                               (Please Drink Responsibly)

Till Next Time…….

Copyright © 2015 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Good evening dear Dottie ,
    What a wonderful post , it may people stop and wonder where there food come from . I buy pasta like most people buy potatoes , I keep pasta on hand at all times , shapes and sizes . Thank you for "Mama Homemade Manicotti" dish , it looks so deliciously good , seems easy , the kids are in school so I will have time to make it nest week and what a good idea that they are freezable and can be used later .
    Great idea to tell people not to use oil when cooking their pasta , it ruins the pasta . I know my family will enjoy this dish (mouth is watering now) .

    Good news ! I picked up my book by Adriana Trigiana "All The Stars In The Heavens" , It's a show stoppable , the line was about a half block long , boy , was I glad I had mine waiting for me . I learned to order ahead when a favorite author was releasing a book . Barnes & Noble ran out , they only was able to get 1,500 and 600 people had ordered ahead . Adriana is well known here , she did a book singing about 5/6 years ago .
    So my friend , I am very thankful you mention her new book in a post , if not , I would be on the waiting list . Thanks so much . Have a great weekend . Thanks for sharing . (((HUGS))) Nee :)

    1. Good evening dear Nee,

      Thank you for visiting and your comment..Yes, I agree I always have pasta and potatoes on hand..These little pillows of goodness are simple to make and yes, you can freeze them. That is what I love about this recipe...You can make them ahead of time and then just pull out what you need for that day or even the holidays. I never use oil in the pasta water..years ago their was a cook on TV (can't remember who that was) but they would say use oil so the pasta doesn't stick..

      So thrilled that you were able to get Adriana's book. I heard that her book was flying off the shelves. Plus it was good that you ordered it ahead of time. No waiting on line...She does try to go to many states and places, but she can't get to every place at once. I do hope that you enjoy the book and I am so glad that I mentioned it on my blog. She really is a special person.

      Thank you dear nee, have a great weekend..and enjoy with your family...Hugs to you too!

      Dottie :)

  2. Angel hair is one of my favorite pastas, as well. And as a fellow Italian-American --well, half Italian-American in my case--I'm looking forward to honoring my culture through food. In December I plan to make some pizzelles for the first time, and the following month my mother and I will try out a canoli recipe.

    Hope your weekend's going well!

    1. Dear Audra,
      Great to hear from you...Thanks for your comment. That is ok that you are half Italian. I am glad that you are going to try Pizzelles for the first time...They are fun to make. Do you have a Pizzelle maker? It is easier with that machine. I love it that you and your mom are going to be making Canoli's. What fun and wonderful memories that will be... Everyday should be Italian American Month...Have a glorious weekend and enjoy dear friend..
      Dottie :)

  3. This manicotti recipe is divine! Your mum is a proper Italian as she makes pasta from scratch. I think she is even more Italian than some younger generations these days which often buy ready made fresh pasta. It is such a shame to loose these traditions, this dish looks amazing!
    My favourite pasta is spaghetti but I love conchiglie too and recently I switched to having more often wholemeal pasta. I find that it helps my digestion as I have a sensitive gut. Lovely post dear Dottie, have a lovely week.

    1. Dear Alida,
      Yes, my mom is definitely the proper Italian mother. She would make these homemade shells for mostly holidays, when I was growing up. Other than that she would use the pasta in the boxes, remember she worked as a teacher and had the family to deal with so during the week she had no time to make homemade pasta. But I do remember those holiday times, what memories, traditions, and fun...Yes these traditions are going out the door as the world has changes so much. That is why I made those cookbooks for my nieces a few years back..Even if they don't use these recipes now, it will be something I hope that they do at some point in their life. I have made wholemeal pasta as well, as my brother is a gluten free person. Thanks for your comment and visiting dear friend...have a glorious week ....
      Dottie :)

  4. Your manicotti look and sound wonderful. Made with crepes, they are so tender and delicious.

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thank you for your visit and your comment..They are very light and tender, I agree..I just looked at your Back Road Journal and I signed up for your post to be delivered through my your site and your posts are wonderful have to go back and read more when I have some time to enjoy it... Thanks again, I post on Tuesdays and come back anytime...have a great week...
      Dottie :)

  5. You are so sweet Dottie, I'm happy to know that you enjoyed my blog. Thank you!

    1. Karen, yes, it really is lovely...I am going to go back today and enjoy more...have a glorious weekend!
      Dottie :)

  6. Dear Dottie, There really is nothing like homemade!! My job as a young girl was to fry the crepes for my mother. I love helping her make these along with everything else on the menu!!
    xoxo Catherine

    1. Dear Catherine,
      Yes, nothing like the fact that you helped your mom make those crepes..seems we all had jobs to help our moms...That is why you and I are so much alike. We spent most of our young life learning from the best women ever...We are truly blessed..Thanks for visiting and your comment ..also glad that you enjoyed this story and the recipes. Have a wonderful weekend...those leaves are falling....enjoy!
      Dottie :)

  7. Hi Dottie -

    Just an additional factoid about my Great-Great-Grandfather, Antoine Zerega...

    While he was born in Lyon France, the family's ancestral home was Piazza DeZerega, in the Liguria hill country of Genoa Italy about 17km SSW of the city proper, and there are still several families residing there today. (BEAUTIFUL country, and AMAZING people if you ever get a chance to visit.)

    Footnote: Zerega Ave (named after Antoine), and the Zerega train station on the IRT Pelham # 6 subway line in Brooklyn (named after his son Frank) still flourish today as well.

    Buon Apetito!