As usual, your friend Gunfighter has food on the brain.
Not just any food, but a dish that has some real history with me.
Now, I'm not of Italian descent, but manicotti has played an important role in my life, as it was the first meal that I prepared for Mrs Gunfighter, when I began to woo her those many years ago.
True story: After Mrs GF had our first "non-date" as we still refer to it, I invited her over to my bachelor pad so that I could thrill her with my culinary skills. So, there I was, in my tiny Capitol Hill apartment, with it's 5x4 (and that is generous) kitchen, making manicotti for the first time.... apparently I did well enough to keep her around, and there you are. I have been cooking for her ever since.
So, last week, I decided to make manicotti because it is a fairly simple recipe and I didn't have a huge amount of time to cook something more elaborate for a mid-week meal. I gathered all of the things that I needed and went home to get busy. Well, I got busy and then I got really irritated because I forgot an important ingredient... the ricotta cheese!
It was getting late, and I needed to get dinner on the table so I did what I usually do when a recipe doesn't go right... I improvised. I remembered that I had grits in the cupboard (of course, I ALWAYS have grits on hand). I made six servings of grits, using chicken broth instead of water, and the rest is history. the recipe is below, but you know how I cook... I like to throw in a little of this, and some of that, so I may have forgotten something, but this is a pretty fair place to start. If you ever make this, feel free to add what you like and leave out what you don't.
Manitcotti… Southern Style!
- 2 (8 ounce) packages of manicotti shells
- 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 3 cans of chicken broth
- 1 six-serving recipe of quick grits
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 cup crumbled Gorganzola cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 (and a half) jars of spaghetti Sauce
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
- 4 slices of crisp bacon, crushed
1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
3. Sautee the cauliflower until mostly softened.
4. Sautee the onions until clear, and set aside.
5. Sautee the scallions until soft, and set aside
6. Cook grits in broth until done, then spread them out on a large plate (or two) to cool
7. Add manicotti & cook for 4 to 5 minutes, drain.
8. In a bowl, mix 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of Gorgonzola cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, garlic, egg, basil, ¼ cup of spaghetti sauce, and grits.
9. Stuff cooked manicotti with the mixture.
10. Spread about 2 cups pasta sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange stuffed manicotti in the dish, and cover with remaining sauce (as much or as little as you like).
11. Cover with aluminum foil
12. Bake 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven.
13. Remove foil, Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan, and continue baking 10 minutes, until mozzarella is melted and bubbly.