Light, soft, delicious little crepes filled with a creamy firm mixture of ricotta/ mozzarella/ Romano cheese and smothered in a rich tomato sauce, manicotti are my family's favorite celebratory pasta dish. I make them for holidays, when company is coming, or as a special birthday treat. They are actually easier to make than lasagna and, in my opinion, even more tasty!
My recipe comes from this 1968 slim paperback cookbook, which was once given away for free by the then Brooklyn, NY based Pollio Dairy Products Corporation, makers of fine Italian cheese products. As a young bride in the early seventies, eager to prove that I could replicate the wonderful dishes my in-laws made, it became my favorite cookbook, as it is filled with many authentic recipes from appetizers to sauces, main courses and desserts.The Pollio recipe, or the Polly-O as the family name was commercially presented, has two versions -- the traditional pasta shell made by making a dough that is rolled out and kneaded and cut into sheets, then dried and cooked in boiling water -- or the second version, which is the one I have been using for over 30 years, and which my in-laws and all the Italian families that I know who have been making them use, which is a simple batter, cooked in a pan like a crepe.
Next, brush a 6 inch frying pan with olive oil, vegetable oil, lard or butter.
I always use a small dab of butter in the pan, which I feel adds to the good taste of the crepe. It takes a little practice to have the pan hot but not overly so that the butter does not burn, so the crepe does get too browned in appearance. It doesn't effect the taste if it happens, but they look nicer if they cook witout brown spots.
Repeat, until all the batter is used. I have a platter nearby where I flip them out onto, as you can see in the photo below.
As a pasta first course we usually have two manicotti, and then I serve the meatballs, or another meat that I've prepared, and vegetables.