Monday, October 2, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Manicotti with Vegetable Cheese Filling and the Harvest Moon

Well, here we are… October.
There’s a nip in the air, and bright colours on the trees.
And, if you live in Canada, next week is Thanksgiving.

I know, after a certain age, it doesn’t feel like a whole year has passed since we celebrated last Thanksgiving.
Or a whole year passing for any holiday, for that matter.
Be that as it may, a year has passed, and it’s time to prepare another big family dinner.

One of the tricks Ma used to make the main dish go further when the family gathered was to serve a pasta course first.
Ma always had homemade stuffed shells in the freezer to add a bit of heft to her regular meals.
If it was a holiday meal, she would also make a pan of lasagna or manicotti.
Ma believed that if we filled up on something like manicotti, there’d be more turkey left over for another dinner or, at the very least, for sandwiches.


New at stuffing tubes?  
It’s easier to cram a bit in from each end.
You can either use a spoon, or place the filling in a plastic bag.  
Using scissors, cut a corner from the bottom of the bag. 
Fill by squeezing the filling mixture into both ends of each tube.

You can also prepare stuffed manicotti in advance and freeze.
If you're in a cooking frenzy, make extra for another dinner.
For frozen stuffed manicotti, an hour in a 350º oven usually did the trick.

                        Manicotti with Vegetable Cheese Filling

Have on hand 

In a large pot place
4 quarts water
Over high heat bring the water to a boil.
salt to taste
225 grams manicotti tubes (14 tubes)
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente.
Drain the tubes and rinse with cold water.

For Filling

Finely chop
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
5 green onions

Place in a large skillet 
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Heat over medium heat.
Add the chopped peppers and onions and continue to cook over medium heat 
for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Cool for 5 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, place in a large bowl 
2 Cups ricotta
1 Cup mozzarella, chopped or shredded
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
Stir in the fried peppers and onions. 

Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan.
Carefully stuff the manicotti tubes and place them in the baking pan.

Preheat oven 350º F

Spoon the remaining sauce over the tubes.
Sprinkle with
4 ounces mozzarella, shredded 
1/2 Cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cover and bake 45 to 50 minutes, until the manicotti is heated through.
Serve hot with available (optional)
grated Romano or Parmesan cheese  
hot tomato sauce 

Ma’s Green Bean Salad is a good side dish with the manicotti.

It’s also a good idea to serve some crusty bread on the side to sop up the sauce...
…and to stretch out that first course.

Enjoyed making manicotti? Try these recipes:

About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac

October 5 - At 2:40 p.m. EDT, the Moon officially turns full. And because this full Moon is the one that occurs nearest to the autumnal equinox (which was September 22) it is christened the Harvest Moon.

Usually the title of Harvest Moon goes to the September full Moon. But from 1970 to 2050 the Harvest Moon falls in October no fewer than 18 times. And 2017 is one of those years.

While the average occurrence of an October Harvest Moon is once about every three years, sometimes as much as eight years can pass between such cases (examples: 1990 to 1998; 2028 to 2036). On alternate years, the October Moon is traditionally known as the full Hunter’s Moon.

October 7 & 8 - The annual Draconid meteor shower, also sometimes called the Giacobinids, will peak. Usually a moderate meteor shower originating near the constellation Draco, the Draconid meteors are created by dust left behind by the periodic comet Giacobini—Zinner. This shower is best viewed in the evening hours. Watch for the Draconid meteors first thing at nightfall – or before the bright Moon rises.

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