Hearty and satisfying baked pasta—pasta al forno—is ideal for family meals and parties. Much of the work can be done in advance so all you have to do is bake and enjoy.
In this recipe by Italian cooking expert Michele Scicolone, which appeared in Real Food, turkey and vegetables are a flavorful filling for manicotti that bake nestled in a blanket of tomato sauce. There are several steps involved, but you can make and refrigerate the sauce and filling ahead. It calls for ground turkey but you could try experimenting with leftover turkey you may have on hand in the weeks ahead, cooking the veggies first and then adding the already-cooked leftover turkey at that stage. Now that would be a step up from the usual turkey sandwiches.
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 28-oz can Italian style tomato purée
6 basil leaves, torn into bits
2 tbsp. tablespoons unsalted butter
8 oz ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 small celery rib, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1⁄2 c. dry white wine
1 cup ricotta cheese
1⁄2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 large egg yolks
1 8-oz box manicotti
1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
To make sauce, melt butter with olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are golden, about 10 minutes. Add tomato purée and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. If sauce seems too thick, add a little warm water. Turn off the heat and stir in basil. (Can be made ahead up to 3 days before using. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.)
To make filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add turkey and cook until meat loses its pink color. Break up lumps of ground meat with the back of a spoon.
Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add wine and simmer 1 minute. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender. Add a little water to pan if mixture becomes too dry.
Scrape meat into a large bowl. Add ricotta, 1⁄2 cup grated cheese, and parsley to the meat mixture. Stir well and taste for seasoning. Stir in egg yolks.
In a large pot, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add pasta and 2 tablespoons salt. Stir well and let cook until pasta is tender yet still firm.
Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Remove pasta pieces with a strainer and place them in ice water to cool. Drain pasta and blot dry with towels.
Spoon a thin layer of sauce over bottom of a 13x9x2-inch pan.
With a small spoon, place some of filling in each tube. Arrange filled manicotti side by side in pan. Spoon on remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 1⁄4 cup grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil. (Can be refrigerated for several hours or overnight.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake 30 minutes (longer if dish has been refrigerated). Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling around edges and center is hot, about 5 minutes more. Serve hot.
Nutrition info Turkey Manicotti (per serving): Calories 538 (216 from fat); Fat 24g (sat. 11g); Chol 136mg; Sodium 998mg; Carb 54g; Fiber 6g; Protein 28g