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Recipe of the Week: Stuffed Manicotti with Tomato Meat Sauce

Posted Dec 18 2008 7:31pm

Looking for a show-stopper holiday meal for your family or company? Why not serve our famous Italian meat sauce over spinach-stuffed shells. Here's the recipe - and don't share it or one of our mafia uncles might have to kill you...

Maria Lazo's Famous Italian Meat Sauce

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 12-oz. cans tomato paste (Contadina, organic)
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce (Contadina, organic)
6-8 cups water
1 lb. ground beef (organic)
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon garlic powder or 2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons basil, chopped or 4 leaves fresh basil
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon organic sugar (important to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (optional)

Instructions:
1. Saute onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil in large Dutch oven-style pot.
2. When onions look translucent, crumble meats into pot. (You do not need to brown the meat. It will fully cook while your sauce is stewing and comes out more tender this way!)
3. Add remaining ingredients (water, spices & cheese) and stir.
4. Bring to a boil for approx. 10 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to low and simmer. Approximately 2 hours (especially if you are putting meatballs in the sauce).
6. Serve over your favorite pasta, ravioli or for another dish like lasagna or chicken parmesan.
7. SAVE SOME FOR LATER: Let sauce cool and freeze half in ziplock bags or containers.

Dorina's Spinach-stuffed Shells (Manicotti)

Ingredients:
1/2 pot Maria's Italian Meat Sauce
1 12-ounce jumbo shells pasta (could use manicotti shells but they're harder to stuff & don't look as fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey, crumbled & sautéed
1 onion, chopped
1 15-ounce container of ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 16-ounce package frozen spinach
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Makes about 3 dozen shells.

1. Boil large pot of water. Add dash of salt and olive oil. Cook shells about 8 minutes (a few minutes less than package says) and cool, running cold water over the top. (Be careful not to overcook or the shells fall apart.)
2. In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, sauté meat and onions.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Mix together ricotta & cream cheeses, spinach and spices. Add meat and onions to the mixture. Blend well.
5. Put a 1/2-inch layer of meat sauce in the bottom of a 13x9-inch pan.
6. Stuff shells with as much stuffing as you can get in there and place them carefully in rows in the pan.
7. Drizzle with more meat sauce.
8. Top with mozzarella & parmesan cheese.
9. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese turns a light golden brown. Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Buon Appetito!
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