My grandfather Coniglio taught me a lot of things while he was alive, but how to cook was one of the things I cherish the most. He taught me that when you cook, you cook by your feelings and not so much the measurements. He believed, like many true Italians, that you taste as you cook to determine the seasonings and flavors that you use.
Here is my recipe for "Four Cheese Sausage Manicotti". I've posted the recipe for this super yummy meal and the approx. measurements for the seasonings. You can use more or less of any of the seasonings to adjust the recipe to your liking. Remember, tasting is the only true way to know if you've got it right! :)
WHAT YOU NEED:
*1 lbs. ground sausage
*1 container (24oz) ricotta cheese
*3/4c parmesan cheese, grated
*3/4c romano cheese, grated
*1c mozzarella cheese, shredded
*1 tbsp. olive oil
*1 tsp. onion powder
*1 tsp. garlic powder
*2 tsp. parsley
*1 tsp. oregano
*1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Pasta & Sauce:
*1 box manicotti pasta
*1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I use my own recipe)
*1 can tomato paste
WHAT YOU DO:
Boil water for pasta (trick: add salt to water once boiling, not before. The salt is important for flavoring the pasta and keeping it from sticking, but if you add it to the water before it boils, it will slow the boiling time). Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm. You do not want to cook the pasta as much as you would cook other pasta because you want it to be firm enough to not fall apart. While water is boiling, brown sausage in a skillet with olive oil. Set aside.
In a saucepan on low, place your spaghetti sauce, tomato paste and any seasonings you like for your sauce. Cover and let it heat over a low heat to prevent it from burning. Stir occasionally.
Next, make the filling for the manicottis. In a large bowl, place ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and romano cheeses. Mix together well. Then add all the above seasonings. Taste and adjust according to your liking. Once all mixed together, add sausage to cheese filling.
Once pasta is cooked, drain and rinse lightly under cold water so they can be handled. Using a small spoon, fill each manicotti so that it is stuffed completely with cheese filling and place in a baking dish with a thin layer of sauce along the bottom. Once all manicottis are stuffed and in baking dish, pour sauce over the top of them. Bake at 375* for about 20-25 minutes or until hot in the center. Everything is already cooked so you are just heating the cheese filling basically. When done, sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top and place back in oven for an additional few minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve with yummy garlic bread and enjoy!