A lot has changed since having children, but my approach to throwing a party is still the same. Unless it’s a crowd of eight or less, buffets are the way to go. They allow you more time to spend with friends and with the right table décor, buffet set ups can be quite beautiful. One of my favorite dishes to make is manicotti from scratch. These ricotta cheese-filled tubes of pasta are actually very easy to make—the batter comes together in the blender, and guests will be impressed when you tell them they’re 100% homemade. Round out your buffet with a salad of winter greens and roasted root vegetables, an antipasto platter and keep the red wine flowing for a fabulous holiday celebration.
Jennie’s Homemade Manicotti
Makes about 16 filled pasta crepes
For the pasta:
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk, more as needed to thin the batter
canola oil to lightly grease the pan
16 ounces ricotta cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan or locatelli cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups marinara sauce
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Add the pasta ingredients to the bowl of the blender attachment fitted onto your Cuisinart Stand Mixer. Blend, adding more milk as needed, until batter is a thin, almost runny consistency. Heat a nonstick 6-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Brush pan lightly with oil. Hold pan at an angle, and swirl pan as you pour in enough batter to coat bottom of skillet. Cook 30 to 45 seconds, flip and cook for 15 more seconds. Transfer to a flat dish or tray. Repeat with remaining batter.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread ½ cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish. Combine all the filling ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well. Lay pasta crepes on a flat surface and spoon an event amount of filling in a long strip down the center of each one. Roll crepes closed, and place seam-side down into the casserole dish. Evenly pour remaining sauce over filled crepes and bake 20 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.