We asked our chefs to share their holiday traditions and memories with us, and we’ve created a Holiday Chef Series from all of their submissions. Our series features family recipes, photographs, cherished moments, favorite holiday dishes, and more. We hope you enjoy!
“When I was about 16-years-old, my grandmother shared this secret and rare recipe for making manicotti. She used “crepes” as opposed to the standard Northern Italian recipe which uses pasta sheets. This recipe has been a Christmas day tradition in my family for over 35 years.” – Al Lanza, North East Regional Chef
Lanza Family Manicotti (serves 6 people)
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 4 tablespoon melted butter
- 36oz fresh ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1 head roasted garlic
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
- 3 eggs
- 24oz spinach, cooked and dry
- nutmeg to taste
- pepper flakes to taste
- 1 can #10 whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 head garlic, chopped
- 2 onions, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 onion, diced
- nutmeg to taste
- In a blender, combine all of the ingredients for crepes and pulse for 10 seconds.
- Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This allows the air bubbles to subside so the crepes will be less likely to tear during cooking. The batter will keep for up to 48 hours.
- While crepe batter is cooling, start making the ricotta filling and sauces.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the ricotta filling, mix well and set aside.
- For the marinara sauce, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and basil, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
- For the béchamel sauce, warm the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. In a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until it’s liquified. Add the onions and cook until translucent. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter/onion mixture, adding the flour a little bit at a time, creating a roux. Using a wire whisk, add the warm milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to avoid clumps. Add a pinch of nutmeg for taste, and stir into the béchamel sauce.
- Make crepes in an 8” omelet pan, mix should make 12 crepes.
- Spoon ricotta filling onto crepe and roll into manicotti shape.
- Top manicotti with both sauces and enjoy!