Manicotti with Sweet Peas

Love this! The recipe is taken from “The Italian Way – Cooking with the De Lucas”. I used a food processor to finely chop the onions and to puree the tomatoes. The great thing about this recipe is that you can make parts of it ahead of time.



4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano
4-5 basil leaves, torn in small pieces
2 28-ounce cans plum tomatoes, pureed in a food mill
1 cup sweet peas, fresh or frozen
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tablespoon Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound fresh lasagna noodles cut in half (to 6 inches long) or 12 dry manicotti shells

1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the onion for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute about 20 seconds.  Set aside half of the onion mixture to use in the filling.  To the remaining mixture, add the marjoram, or oregano, basil, and tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. In a skillet, cook the sweet peas with the reserved onion mixture for 4-5 minutes or until peas are tender.  Remove from heat and allow peas to cool (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish). In a bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, cooled peas, egg, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Mix well and refrigerate for at least an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 375F.  In a large pot over high heat, bring water to a boil.  Cook fresh lasagna noodles 1 minute, or cook dry pasta according to package direction.  Drain and cool completely in cold water.  Drain again then lay cooked noodles on a clean kitchen towel to dry.  Spoon the filling, about 2 tablespoons, along the short end of each noodle and roll up. (If using manicotti shells, pipe the filling into the cooked shells).  Place half the sauce in a 9×13-inch baking dish and arrange the manicotti in a single layer, seam side down.  Top with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Uncover and broil for 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown.  Remove from the oven, let stand 5 minutes, and garnish with reserved peas.
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