Vegetable Manicotti alla Vodka

Why is it that some of the world's tastiest foods are the ugliest to photograph? I don't see a way of making manicotti baked in chunky vodka sauce look anything but a gory crime scene (albeit a crime scene involving spinach and artichokes). It's really unfortunate, because, if I don't mind saying so myself, this recipe rocks.

I was having one of my typical fits of indecision while making the grocery list for the week. I kept waiting for one of the thousands of recipes at my disposal to jump up and slap me in the face with its awesomeness. But NOTHING was exactly what I wanted. What I wanted was this recipe....cheesy, creamy, spicy, comforting, and stuffed with vegetables. What's a girl to do? Well, make it up, of course.

I am extremely pleased with the outcome of this meal and would be remiss in not recommending it to you. Of course, if you want to save yourself extra dirty dishes, time and money, I'm sure you could buy a jar of vodka sauce and pour it on top of the manicotti. But if you have the time and/or mad phat multitasking skills, making your own sauce is definitely worth it.

One word of warning: Don't eat the filling before putting it in the pasta. It's delicious, but if you eat it, you may find yourself without enough stuffing for the manicotti.... hence my 11-12 manicotti shells directions below. Oops.

Vegetable Manicotti alla Vodka (from moi)
For the pasta and filling:
-11-12 manicotti shells, cooked, drained, and cooled
-8-10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1/2 large onion, chopped finely
-2 large cloves garlic, minced
-5 large mushrooms, chopped finely
-1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped finely
-2/3 cup ricotta
-2/3 cup shredded parmesan
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-Scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1. Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 13x9 pan with cooking spray.

2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes. Add artichoke hearts, and cook for a few more minutes. Set aside briefly and TRY not to eat it all. It'll be hard, but try. I know it's delicious, but you need it.

3. Put spinach and the cooked onion mixture into a large bowl. Add ricotta, parmesan, salt, pepper, and oregano. Mix until thoroughly combined.

4. Stuff the manicotti with the mixture. It is easiest to use your fingertips.

For sauce:
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-Approximately 1/3 of a large onion, chopped
-2 large cloves garlic, minced
-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
-2/3 cup heavy cream
-1/3 cup 2% milk
-1/3 cup vodka
-1 teaspoon flour
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1/8 teaspoon cayenne
-1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sautéing for 3-5 minutes or until softened.

2. Add crushed tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and you're left with thick crushed tomatoes, approximately 8 minutes. Add cream, milk, and vodka, stirring to combine. Add flour and whisk in. Let the mixture cook for 2-3 minutes, lowering the temperature to prevent scalding. Stir in the spices and remove from heat.

3. Pour the sauce over the manicotti. Spread evenly in the pan. Cover with tin foil and cook 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 10 minutes

-Serves 4 (makes approximately 12 manicottis)


The Alchemist said...

yum, that looks really delicious!

Ruth said...

Vodka? I have to try it! Thanks for posting!

Chris's Gourmet Fashion said...

Love manicotti. Thanks for the reminder that I haven't made them in a while. Your photos look just fine!

Aimee said...

Mmmm that looks so tasty! :)

Sonia said...

This dish is looking really great. i have never tried it and wud love to give it a shot soon !

Cooking Gallery said...

What a beautiful dish...! I am sure it tastes as good as it looks :D).

Heather Lynne said...

We made this last night and it's fabulous! Easy to make ahead of time and heat later. Thansk for the recipe!

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