Friday, August 14, 2009

Vegetable-Stuffed Manicotti


You know, sometimes no matter how you try, there's just not a good way to photograph something you've cooked. Case in point is this Vegetable-Stuffed Manicotti. It tasted wonderful, but the pictures look more like a close-up on CSI. If you still want to see it, you can click here. Just remember, you've been warned.

Nevertheless, this is a nice pasta recipe that you can adjust to your taste and whatever vegetables you have on hand. I'm sure I used a recipe the first time I made this, but have since gone to making it "by feel". I always use eggplant, zucchini and onion, but the other veggies vary according to our mood and what's available. I've used carrots (cooked a little longer than the other vegetables), black olives, tomatoes, green or red bell peppers and spinach. Just dice them into 1/4" to 3/8" pieces and add them to the saute. Last night I kept it basic with just the eggplant, zucchini, and onion.

If you have filling left, you can freeze it to use another time. Make manicotti again, or layer it into a lasagna.

Vegetable-Stuffed Manicotti

1 medium eggplant, peeled
1 medium zucchini, peeled or not peeled
1 medium onion
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
minced garlic to taste
salt and pepper to taste
dried basil to taste
dried oregano to taste
3 cups (1 jar) of your favorite store-bought or homemade pasta sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box manicotti shells

Cut peeled eggplant into 1/4" slices. Soak in salted water for at least 1 hour. You may have to weight the slices down with a plate or bowl to keep them immersed in the water.

Meanwhile, dice the onion, zucchini and any other vegetables you may be using into approximately 1/4" dice. Refrigerate until needed.

Following package directions, cook manicotti for 7 minutes. Drain well.

After soaking eggplant, and while pasta is cooking, drain and rinse with clear water. Cut into 1/4" dice.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add vegetables and saute for about 2 minutes. Add garlic, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Continue to saute until vegetables are tender. Stir in 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, then cover veggies and set aside for a few minutes.

Spray a large glass baking dish with pan spray. Spoon approximately 3/4 cup of pasta sauce into dish and spread to coat.

Fill cooked pasta shells with vegetable filling and arrange in baking dish. After all shells are filled pour remaining pasta sauce over shells, making sure all shells have been well-coated. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover with foil and bake at 350°F. for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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