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the renegade bride

the wild, wacky adventures of a bridal industry insider +newlywed + new homeowner and (in practice)renovation-maven. Whee!

A few years back, I stumbled upon the premise of the Sunday Supper  and fell in love. While I don’t have a big get together (yet) I hope to in the future once our house is done and we can have actual, er, guests over. As a brief update: still no countertops (but they are being installed as I TYPE!! Wooohoo!!); farmhouse table is in production (yay) and pretty much nothing else has been accomplished, because we fail at accomplishments.

But anyway, this weekend we had a house guest– my husband’s dad enroute from Minnesota to Florida, who is helping us with all sorts of fun projects like completing the lighting and whatnot, and for dinner last night I planned to cook something lovely. The recipe: my “famous” manicotti. I do a stuffed shells type of Manicotti, and here’s the recipe, and pictures to boot.


Disclaimer: the sauce is a labor of love. It’s a five hour endeavor, but I promise, it’s worth every moment. This is a double recipe, it’s enough to make sauce for both the manicotti and have leftovers for the next time you need sauce. Which really, could be anytime…

In a large pot, combine:
3 tbs olive oil
5 large cloves of garlic
5 large fresh herloom tomatoes, cut in chunks (now these are the big boys you can get from your garden or whole foods, where each weighs about a pound. If you don’t have that size, then go with 10 lbs of fresh tomatoes)
4 cans of whole  canned & peeled tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
1/2 cup white onion, diced
3 Handfuls fresh basil, pulled from stem

Big Giant Tomatoes

Rough chop on the fresh tomatoes

Oodles of fresh basil– tip: if you choose to use dried basil, you will need to use less (it’s more concentrated) and add halfway through the cooking time. I’d use 1 tablespoon dry

After you add all those delicious components into your pot, lower the temperature to a low simmer for 4 hours. Yes, four hours. Stir occasionally. Taste occasionally. Then at hour three:

add 2 tablespoons white sugar and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. Stir. Then mash up all your tomatoes with a potato masher. It’ll look like this:

Transfer to 2 qt saucepan on low/simmer (note: you will have about 16-18 cups of sauce at this point. You want to cook it down a bit for the next thirty minutes or so, and stir it frequently. Add salt to taste– I add about 1 tablespoon, but add the salt slowly. You can add more oregano at this time if you’d like.

Now, bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil & add olive oil and salt; cook your shells. I cook about 20 to get 16 as my total number to fit in a large pyrex baking dish

While your shells are cooking, make your ricotta filling & preheat your oven to 400(375 for convection baking)


1 container 15 oz whole ricotta cheese ( organic tastes great)
1 small egg
1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper
Mix in a bowl then add 1 cup shredded part skim mozarella cheese
1/4 cup peccorino Romano cheese

Egg, parsley, pepper and salt

Mix those ingredients in a bowl and extract your shells. Don’t rinse them, just pour them into a colander and gently dry them with a towel. They need to be dry to cook the best in my opinion.

Layer bottom of a glass Pyrex baking dish with 1 1/2 cup of sauce
Fill shells with 1 1/2 tsp of filling
Add sprinkle of part skim shredded mozzarella
Cover with sauce as liberally as you like
Cover sauce with 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup pecorrino Romano cheese

Cover with tinfoil
Bake 35 min covered and then remove foil
Remove foil
Cook 10 more minutes
Serve with bread to soak up excess sauce
Prep: sauce 5 hours
Shells and assembly 30 min
Baking 1 hr

I think it’s the finest manicotti in the land, perfect with a glass of Chianti. Enjoy!


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