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Jan 2, 2009 07:55 PM

Using uncooked manicotti shells

I am making a dinner for 10 tomorrow, and already made the sauce, apps, meatballs, salad vinaigrette, etc. I am making baked manicotti and would seriously prefer not having to deal with filling wet noodles. Can I use the Ronzoni brand shells dry (they are not "no-boil" type, but i have used regular lasagna sheets without boiling and it was fine)? I am wondering if there may be a good cooking method - perhaps lower and slower? I have a ton of cleaning to do tomorrow, so the easier the better. Thanks!

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  1. I have only tried to use them uncooked once. The result was a heavy, sticky pasta (I suspect that was because all of the starch remained in the mix rather than draining off with some of the water as would be the case when pre-cooking) so I've never tried it again. No matter how low and slow you cook them, the starch has nowhere to go except into the mix with the other ingredients. Perhaps I could have had better success with more liquid but I wanted a pasta dish not soup.

    1. I always wondered about this too. Handling those wet noodles can be cumbersome, I agree.
      I'd love to be able to take those raw manicotti and stand them on their sides, fill them up utilizing say a pastry bag, give a quick tap to help any settling, and then lay them in an inch of tomato sauce ready for cooking. Somehow, I think that would work as long as the manicotti remain covered the majority of the time they sit and bake. Hopefully someone can chime in with a "successful" manicotti shortcut experience.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cheese Boy

        The Cook's Illustrated recipe worked out very well for me. Rather than use actual manicotti, they soak no-boil lasagna noodles in boiling water for 5 minutes, spread the filling on the bottom 3/4 of each lasagna noodle, and then roll them up, creating their own manicotti. That solution was a cinch, and the recipe turned out great. They do specifically recommend Barilla noodles, because they say it has a delicate texture like fresh pasta, and because it has 16 noodles per package, whereas most competitors only have 12 noodles.

          1. re: angusb

            Wow a eureka moment.
            Thank goodness *somebody* has come up with a great way for me to use those 2 boxes of Barilla no-boil lasagna sitting in the back of my kitchen cabinet for almost a year. I'll wipe the dust off and get to work asap. Thank you !

        1. fwiw, an alternative to making manicotti using the lasagne noodles is to make stuffed shells instead. i think it is much easier (i made some last evening.) with a great tasty, cheesy filling (i use spinach and garlic and cottage cheese, pecorino romano and italian shredded cheese blend (kraft or sargento).

          1. Thank you so much all for your input. Actually, I had seen the episode of Cooks Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen where they made the manicotti with the Barilla lasagna sheets, some while back. And while that may have been the best way, my grocery store did not carry them. I looked! So, I went ahead, worriedly, although I saw a TON of recipes online using uncooked pasta. And, ya know what? I piped the cheese mix in, the night before, and then about ten minutes before baking, the next day, I set them up in a baking pan over a thin layer of sauce. I covered them with a good bit of sauce, covered tightly with foil and baked at 350 for 45 minutes. They came out perfect! So, let it be known, that my experience with uncooked manicotti shells was positive.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Justpaula

              congratulations, and thanks for reporting back. we all appreciate that courtesy! happy new year!

            2. The way I like to do it (after many cursing matches with slippery manicotti shells), is I buy fresh lasagne sheets. The fancy grocery store where I live sells them in a package and they are square - kind of like oversized wonton wrappers. I dip each noodle in a bowl of hot water, blot dry on a clean dish towel, spread filling and rollup. Put the rolled up sheet seam side down in the pan. This is a similar strategy as the no-boil rollup method, but it's actually easier - and the fresh pasta gives the manicotti a fantastic texture.