When it comes to special occasion foods, crab and cream sauces are near the top. If a dish has both, it’s pretty much guaranteed to please. This dish…it’s just so right.
The flavors here are delicate and the texture is unbelievably smooth. Each bite is comforting and decadent and luxurious, all at the same time. Honestly, there’s not much I can say to portray to you just how amazing this manicotti is. And we all know how rare it is for me to be at a loss of words, right?
So open up a nice bottle of wine and give it a try for your next special meal. If you don’t have a certain occasion in mind, throw together a dinner party for friends. This manicotti can be fully assembled the night before, so it really is perfect for a party. Whatever you do, just make it. I promise you won’t regret a single bite.
Crab and Ricotta Manicotti
from Giada deLaurentiis, Everyday Pasta
For the bechamel sauce:
5 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. whole milk, warmed
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
pinch of freshly-grated nutmeg
For the manicotti:
1 box (8 oz.) manicotti or cannelloni (12-14 shells)
1 c. whole milk ricotta cheese
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 egg yolk
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 lb. lump crab meat
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
chopped parsley, for garnish
1. To make the bechamel, melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm mil, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth, creamy, and thick, about 10 minutes. Do not let sauce boil. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool and refrigerate in a tightly covered container.
2. To make the manicotti, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook partially, about 2 minutes short of al dente cooking time, as indicated on package. Drain pasta and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, 3/4 c. Parmesan, egg yolk, basil, crab, salt, and pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a baking dish.
5. To assemble manicotti, spoon a thin layer of bechamel sauce into the bottom of prepared pan. Using a small spoon or clean hands, fill each manicotti shell with crab mixture. Place in baking dish, top with rest of bechamel, and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. At this point, manicotti can be refrigerated, tightly covered, up to overnight.
6. Bake until top is bubbly and golden, 15-20 minutes. If manicotti were assembled the night before, remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking and add about 10 minutes to baking time. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Yields: 6 servings (2 manicotti each)