Will is a cheese-a-holic. He asks for it all the time in that cute little voice (“chhhheeeeesssssse”) and it’s always followed with a bit of gratitude (“dank you”) for his favorite food item . . . next to chocolate, of course. Fresh mozzarella is his favorite, but he’s not picky . . . he will eat whatever cheese you want to share. Then again, it’s no wonder that he’s a cheese-lover with the excess of cheese I ate while I was pregnant with him (the same justification applies to the chocolate too . . . geez, and I wonder why I was a whale when I gave birth).
Anyway, knowing that he has a penchant for cheesiness, I had him in mind when I created this dish on the fly this week. Originally, I had planned to make a lasagna with the wonderful, fresh flat sheets of egg noodles I purchased at Costco last week. But lasagna takes a while to cook and it was late. Besides, I was hungry and knew Will would love to eat this for lunch the next day.
So instead I made this lovely tray of manicotti. I love manicotti, particularly when the ricotta is smooth (instead of grainy, like it gets when you overcook it). There’s a great little restaurant in Danbury, Conn., that does it just right called The New Sorrento. Their manicotti is to die for. My husband and I actually had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding there since we loved their manicotti (and chicken parm, too) so much. We still drop by for take out once in a while. In any case, it holds a special place in our hearts.
I modeled this after the manicotti at The New Sorrento, with smooth ricotta and a homemade marinara. You don’t have to make your own marinara, but I do recommend it. (Check back tomorrow for my marinara recipe.)