Friday, April 15, 2011

Manicotti, or lasagna rolls with vegetables

A while ago I saw a recipe for baked manicotti in Cooks Illustrated. The idea was that instead of trying to stuff slippery manicotti noodles, you soak some lasagna noodles and roll them up with filling. That way you don't have to struggle with messy filling of slippery noodles, but still have pretty much the same thing. I thought I'd try it, after getting a comment on my Facebook page asking for a manicotti recipe.

It worked out well, except I forgot that gluten free lasagna noodles are so skinny. Ideally I would have rolled these into long tubes, but the noodles are so skinny that would have been more trouble than it was worth. Instead I rolled these up into fat little rolls, so they're more like rolled up lasagna and less like manicotti. It's got the same flavors, and idea as manicotti, so this is the best I can do without making my own noodles (a project for another time) or buying gluten free manicotti noodles (do those even exist?).
See? Lasagna roll ups. Oh and the best part! I snuck in a bunch of vegetables. Not that I have picky kids or anything, but I haven't been eating enough vegetables (does anyone?) so I added frozen spinach to the cheese filling and shredded carrots to the tomato sauce. Sneaky!

Manicotti, or lasagna rolls
This makes about a dozen rolls, I only baked the six pictured above and froze the rest. When it's time to eat those ones, I will probably stick them straight from the freezer into the oven and bake about an hour or so. 

1 box gluten free lasagna noodles (I used these)
1 28oz can of tomato puree
3/4 t salt
1 t chili flakes
1 t sugar
6 cloves garlic, minced and divided
2 T chopped basil divided
2 T tomato paste
1 16oz container of ricotta cheese (Maplebrook is my FAVORITE)
1/4 c grated Parm cheese, plus more for topping
1 bag frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
2 eggs
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
6 carrots, peeled and grated

Set a kettle of water to boil and lay the lasagna noodles in a baking dish. When the water comes to a boil, pour it over the noodles, poking them once in a while with a knife to keep them from sticking. Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the tomatoes, salt, chili flakes, sugar, half of the garlic, half of the basil, and tomato paste in a pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until everything else is done. Combine the rest of the garlic and basil, ricotta cheese, parm, spinach, eggs, paprika, and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste. Check to see if the noodles are softened yet. This might take 15-20 minutes, but be patient. When the noodles are soft enough to roll without breaking them, drain them and rinse them with cold water. Dry them off as best you can with paper towels. Add the carrots to the tomato sauce, then spread enough of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish to cover it.

Now it's time to roll the noodles! One noodle at a time, spread the filling on 3/4 of each noodle, leaving one end without filling. Roll them up, starting with the side with the filling, and place each noodle roll end side down in the tomato sauce. Repeat with all the noodles. Don't go too crazy with the filling, you just need a thin layer on each noodle, you don't want it to ooze out the sides as you're rolling. Once you've rolled all the noodles, spread tomato sauce all over the top, then sprinkle with cheese. Cover and bake 30 minutes.
Serve with garlic bread and salad, if you have it.


  1. This sounds like a great dinner for us for the coming week. So pretty and so tasty looking!

  2. I came across your flickr/website from tumblr and hoped that gf manicotti meant "good fuckin' manicotti." I was, however, not disappointed. Great photos! What's your lighting set-up like?

  3. Delicious, thanks for sharing this recipe, wow amazing.