Sausage and Pea Manicotti
You see at the time that I made these I was 8 months pregnant and in my attempt to be a good little planner I decided to make a double batch to freeze for a future meal after our new addition arrived.
The not so good planner side of me thought I could accomplish the assembly during nap time right before a set appointment…approximate time to accomplish- 90 minutes. Now this seems like a reasonable amount of time right? YES- as long as everything goes according to plan without a hitch…let me just say, life was out to get me today.
I started to prep my ingredients, which included a lot of chopping, defrosting, decasing, and par cooking. Marinara sauce was created and a delightful, cheesy béchamel sauce was whipped together with ease, no worries…and then things got crazy!
When making a double batch make sure the pans you use are big enough to get the job done. Sauces were a go but I may have underestimated the size pan needed to create the filling. Sausage and peas flung everywhere as I carefully stir fried the meat and peas to get a nice, even caramelization. It was a hot mess- a delicious, mouth-watering mess scattered across the stove top, and then we had to stir in half of the béchamel sauce…oh boy!
The next kitchen faux pas was boiling enough water to par cook the manicotti noodles appropriately. Let’s just say that I had masticated noodles due to the fact they stuck together as they waited to be filled in the strainer. I had to get creative because I was in too deep…these babies were going to be made one way or another, even if it killed me- which it almost did because wait till you read what happens next.
As I am frantically trying to stuff the manicotti, time is slipping through my fingers and then I notice something is not right. You know that feeling you get before something is about to go horribly wrong, well the hairs on my neck went up as I felt the subtle breeze of a wasp dive bomb me from out of nowhere. HOW DID HE GET IN HERE?!
I dodged left, I dodged right- my hands covered in sauce and sausage filling oozing out of my broken manicotti rubble, my heart beating a thousand beats per second because have I mentioned I am TERRIFIED of wasps!? Now call it pregnancy brain or irrational fear I reached for the only weapon I felt comfortable using to fight my foe…Wasp and hornet spray…you know the kind a pregnant woman is NOT supposed to handle due to the fact it could cause birth defects, let alone spray in the house at all…yea I sprayed all over the window and may have ruined my son’s favorite Thomas the train puzzle…sorry honey!
The Brightside, my food was left unscathed and by the grace of God I was able to crawl across the finish line with a delightful assembly of Italian comfort food. Believe me, after the time I had putting this dish together, I needed all the comfort I could get.
The sausage is rich, the peas taste fresh and the duo of marinara and béchamel sauces hug you inside and out like an Italian Grandma. This dish does take time to assemble, but the results are well worth the effort.
Just be sure to use a fly swatter instead of the spray…way less hazardous!
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ heavy cream
- 6 oz grated Pecorino Romano
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp kosher salt, plus ½ tsp
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus ¼ tsp
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
- ½ cup whole milk ricotta
- 12 manicotti shells
- 1 (28 oz ) jar marinara sauce, or home made
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prep a 9x 13 inch pan with vegetable oil cooking spray and set aside.
- Prep the Fonduta sauce by bringing the milk and cream to a simmer in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once it has reached a simmer, reduce the heat to low and stir in the Pecorino Romano cheese until it has melted and the sauce is smooth. Take the pan off of the heat, stir in the basil and set aside.
- Prep the filling using a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the sausage, shallot, garlic ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Be sure to break up the sausage meat in the pan allowing the mixture to cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through and broken down to about ½ inch pieces. Increase the heat to high, pour in your white wine and scrape the bottom of the skillet to release the brown bits that have cooked on the bottom of the pan. Cook till the wine is evaporated, about 2 minutes then remove pan from the heat. Allow to cool slightly, then you can stir in your peas, ricotta and 1 cup of the fonduta sauce. Season with ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.
- Prep your manicotti shells by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender (about 7 or 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
- Assemble your dish by ladling half of the marinara sauce over the bottom of your 9x13 pan. Using a spoon, stuff each manicotti shell with your sausage mixture and arrange in the pan so that all 12 fit in a single layer. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the top of the stuffed manicotti shells. Top the marinara with the rest of your fonduta sauce and sprinkle the top with the mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until it bubbly and the top is golden brown.
- ** You can also freeze the assembled dish for a later date. Just cook the dish from its frozen state in a 400 degree oven for about 1 -1.5 hours till it’s bubbly and golden brown.