This weekend, Brent’s family was in town. They are in town a lot considering Brent’s sister Megan is going to give birth sometime within the next two weeks. We were called to come on over!
We got up to Megan + Sam’s house and after a rousing time including someone (read: me) breaking a dining room chair (if someone tells you the chair is about to break, do not taunt the chair owner by jumping on it… it will break.)… we went into the kitchen to start cooking.
I had no clue that we’d be cooking, so this was kind of surprise blogpurtunity (blog opportunity, new word). Excuse the camera-phone pics.
Anyhoo, Brent’s family is a meat and food-loving crew. His Mom knows I don’t eat meat so she talked to her friend with a vegetarian daughter and got some recipes from her. Nice, right?
First up we started making Spinach Manicotti.
The Ingredient List:
- 1 carton (15 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 jars (28 ounces each) Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 package (8 ounces) manicotti shells
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Cook manicotti noodles according to directions on the package, drain and allow to cool. (You could put these in a bowl of ice water for a few seconds to cool them quickly, or just run them under cold water.)
3. In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, onion and egg. Season with parsley, pepper and garlic powder. Mix in 1 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
4. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Stuff manicotti shells with ricotta mixture, and arrange in a single layer in the dish. Cover with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
4. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.
This was good, but needed some more flavor. I’d recommend using fresh garlic in place of garlic powder (a clove or so) and a more flavorful cheese inside in addition to the mozzarella, maybe an Italian cheese blend. I also am all for making your own spaghetti sauce when there is time for it. It always tastes better. The recipe also calls for one egg to bind the ricotta mixture together, but I find that to be unnecessary so I’d leave it out.
Next… it was time to make some more pasta! Brent’s mom decided to double the recipe below.
Cheese Tortellini + Vegetable Primavera
The Ingredient List
- 1 (13-ounce) package Cheese Tortellini (we used Butoni mixed cheese)
- 1/2 bunch (8 ounces) asparagus
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- small amount of olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut tips from asparagus, and place in a bowl. Cut remaining asparagus into 1/4-inch pieces; add to bowl. Dice tomato and zucchini.
2. Sauté asparagus, green onions, and zucchini in hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, and cook 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Stir pasta into asparagus mixture, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately.
The tortellini primavera was pretty good, but, it was missing garlic. I’ll repurpose the 2 HUGE tubs of leftovers with some pesto to give it a little more of a kick. I might also cook it up with some parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic + parmesan. (Anyone want to come over for leftovers?)
Brent’s mom added salad and some garlic bread and we were ready to go. The dinner (shown all together above) left five meat eaters and myself satisfied.
What do you make to feed a large group of hungry people?