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STUFFED PASTA - Home Cooking Dish of the Month for March 2014

The people spoke and the next DOTM will be STUFFED PASTA. I was hoping for Thai Curries and maybe next month we’ll be cooking Thai but this month it is pasta. Interestingly, March COTM is “Stir”, an Italian cookbook with a possibility of stuffed pasta recipes.

I searched for “stuffed pasta” and didn’t find much coherence but this page was interesting: http://www.foodsubs.com/PastaStuffed....

Those curious to see how we agreed to make March stuffed pasta month, have a look at links below:
• the nomination thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/965919
• the voting thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966570

Let’s stuff lots of pasta and have fun!

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    1. I have two that I make on a regular basis: Manicotti when I'm in a hurry, and cannelloni when I have a few hours. Both get equal praise luckily!

      2 Replies
      1. re: coll

        I have a baked manicotti recipe I really like that isn't the usual. Chopped broccoli, chopped red bell pepper, chopped onion and italian sausage are cooked in a saute pan and bound with a white sauce. This is the mixture and a simple red sauce is the first layer, then the manicotti, then some more white sauce and bake. The final product has the rich taste of cheese even though there isn't any.

        1. re: Berheenia

          Sounds healthy and tasty but there would be a riot if I served it ;-)

      2. I'm cooking for one, so when I want lasagna, have to scale it down from it's normal BIG form in a casserole dish. I'll cook 4-5 lasagna sheets (al dente), lay out on board, and smear about 2/3 with all the usual ingredients... meat sauce, ricotta/egg mixture, etc., then just roll up into a neat little "stuffed" bundle. Into a baking dish, top with more sauce & cheese and bake. One makes a decent sized portion for me, one becomes lunch the next day, and other 2-3 get frozen and vac sealed for later. From frozen & topped with sauce, ready to eat in about 35-45 minutes... about same amount of time "prepared"/frozen takes.

        3 Replies
        1. re: kseiverd

          Kseiverd, thank for these instructions! I am also cooking for one and almost never make lasagna because of that. I will definitely try your method.

          1. re: kseiverd

            Lasagna rolls are one of my favorite things.... easy to freeze in individual portions and for someone like me, anything with built-in portion control is always good.

            1. re: kseiverd

              That sounds great kselverd! I'll definitely try this. I'm also cooking for one - I can imagine this with a salad and some good garlic bread! Yummy!

            2. Do deconstructed stuffed shells count? I made it last week. It's one of those recipes that's not really a recipe, quick 'n easy--spinach with hot sausage sauteed in garlic and oil. Then I tossed it with ricotta and bite-sized rigatoni. I didn't think it was a big deal. It's just simple, get dinner on the table Italian-American comfort food. I had packaged up a dish for my mom, too. When she finally ate it last night, she called and said, "What did you do? This is really good!" :)

              1. I love stuffed shells. I get the Giant Pasta Shells and do either a version of Taco stuffed shells or Enchilada stuffed shells. The meat can vary from ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken or shredded chicken. Here are a couple I have tried with much success.



                The "Mexican stuffed" ones I also add a little diced tomato and other toppings like I would a regular taco.

                  1. Where is everybody? Anyone stuffing pasta out there?

                    3 Replies
                      1. re: coll

                        :D The Italian-Irish in my neck of the woods did, but I only served them for dinner. Yes, no kidding--in Hartford, CT, DiFiore Pasta Co. made cabbage ravioli stuffed with corned beef and mashed badadas. They're FANTASTIC! And I had the last two for lunch today. SLAINTE!

                    1. I made a batch of stuffed shells the other evening. I used a bout a quart of the Bolognese sauce from the online recipe listed on the COTM page for STIR. I added a small can of tomato sauce and some hot pepper blend.

                      I mixed 1 lb. ricotta, 1/4 c. grated Parmesan, 1 Tb. parsley (dried), 1 beaten egg, s/p. This was enough to stuff 15 cooked pasta shells. Covered them with sauce and baked at 350 for about 40 min. until hot and bubbly.

                      Nice, satisfying dish for the never ending nasty winter.

                      1. I bought wonton wrappers more than 3 weeks ago, with the intent of making something ravioli-like with them. They're now a week beyond the use-by date and it's unlikely I'll get anything made before month-end.

                        Last year as part of a "cooking from" group, I made the Artichoke Heart Stuffed Shells from Smitten Kitchen. That cured me from making stuffed pasta, at least the giant shell variety.

                        Recipe here http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

                        Here's a link to my comments from last year and you can see what others had to say about the dish http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8978...

                        1. Cannelloni (stuffed w/veal, pork, mushrooms, spinach)

                          Much as I'd like to report I'd made a delicate ravioli w/ethereal homemade pasta, I'll stick with the more pedestrian truth--albeit one that yielded two delicious dinners last week.

                          This began with two desires: (1) to make something quick and (2) to use up some bits and bobs and partial packages from the freezer, fridge, and pantry.

                          From the freezer: about 3 c. marinara sauce from last fall, a zip-lock bag containing about 1 1/2 c. of veal-pork-diced carrots (probably from a cannelloni stuffing circa December), another w/roughly the same amount of sauteed diced mushrooms and pancetta (leftover component of an hors d'oeuvre made earlier this month).

                          From the fridge: some must-use-now "fresh" spinach, a half-wedge of a pecorino something-or-other (softer than romano), the end of a container of crème fraîche, some grated parmigiano.

                          From the pantry: the better part of a box of nifty no-boil tubes (sold as "manicotti shells") that cook once stuffed and purt into the oven.

                          I steamed, drained, and chopped the spinach, chopped the pecorino, and mixed those with the defrosted meat mixture and mushrooms, then stuffed the tubes, poured the marinara over them, dolloped with crème fraîche, and sprinkled with grated parmigiano. The dish went into a 375F oven for 30-35 minutes.

                          We thought this mash-up was delicious, two nights in a row--once w/a side of tossed salad, the other with roasted brussels sprouts.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                            This is one delicious looking dish! Who'd guess that it is "clean-the-fridge-and-freezer" kind of entre:) This reminds me that I still have manicotti to make - been planning for a couple of weeks but one thing after another... Will do my best to make it on the weekend - will make nice dish to take for lunch with a simple side salad. You've inspired me to get off my proverbial butt :)

                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                              I adore cannelloni, and only make it once a year or so as it is quite time consuming. A few days ago, I found myself with a block of time and all the ingredients on hand -- the stars aligned.

                              My version is also a veal/spinach (+ hot sausage) mixture, but is made with super delicate crespelle rather than pasta sheets. it's one of the more time consuming recipes in my rotation, but absolutely worth it.

                              the filling is made with veal and hot sausage, mirepoix and baby spinach all sautéed and mixed with a good blend of spices. processed until smooth-ish and then some ricotta is added to the mix to lighten it up a bit. The crespelle are made with a simple savory crepe batter.

                              After filling and rolling the crepes, the cannelloni are topped with a béchamel (seasoned with some nutmeg, parmesan and white pepper) and dotted with some marinara and baked.

                              I had the leftovers for lunch today and they were just awesome. the savory complexity of the filling is such a good foil for the delicate, light crespelle. If it wasn't such a PIA to make we'd have it more often for sure.

                              1. re: MAH

                                This sounds luscious! It also reminded me of stuffed crepe that was a family favourite but I have not made in a long time. It starts with boiled meat that is ground and gently fried with onion, a touch of garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. It is folded into very thin crepes and fried in butter until crispy. I must make some soon either your version or mine.

                              2. re: nomadchowwoman

                                nomadchowwoman, now that is being resourceful and recycling leftovers that probably would have gotten thrown out when I cleaned out the freezer/fridge. Thanks for the inspiration...sounds heavenly.

                              3. I made crespelle for Christmas Eve and they were outstanding. First made the crepes using a batter of egg, milk, flour and olive oil. Then mixed together a filling of whole milk ricotta, mozzarella and parmigiano that went on the crespelle that were then rolled and put in a baking dish. Topping was a good amount of Parmigiano and then heavy cream so each one was coated on the outside but not puddled in the dish. Baked in a hot oven for about 10 minutes or until brown and puffed. Amazingly good -- and I would say even better with a little gorgonzola inside (one of the guests hates blue cheese so skipped it.)

                                1. Crespelles (w/mushroom-fontina filling and brown butter-sage sauce)

                                  Mine, unfortunately, were not nearly as successful as MAH's or escondido's. Actually, they were a failure. As the recipe was from the current COTM, "Stir," I've already reported on the COTM thread.


                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                      Well, that was weird. What have I missed? Trying again.

                                      I probably wouldn't have considered lasagne as a stuffed pasta, but it's been mentioned here, and I just happened to have cooked it in the overwhelming post-honeymoon, catching up at work days. You know, those days that I'm still living in right now.
                                      Some time ago, I had made a Duck Ragù and a wild mushroom sauce for a party. Unfortunately, sickness intervened, and two tubs of duck and mushrooms sat in the freezer. We thawed them out a few days ago, made some fresh pasta, layered duck with mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and some grated parm/reg. Whoa. We did good! Even well made ingredients that have been frozen a bit too long, can make a great lasagne,

                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                            Thank you meatn3 and ncw! It was very good. Makes me want to keep duck ragù in the freezer all the time!

                                    2. I know that March has passed, but thought I would mention this one (Sardinian Ravioli) for those coming along afterwards to use this thread for inspiration.

                                      I tried this unusual combination awhile ago, and really liked it. In short, the filling is mashed potato, cheese and mint and it is served with butter, sage and saffron.


                                      -- and here is a video of the braiding technique for the pasta that they mentioned --


                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: ursy_ten

                                        Wow! Those look incredible! I have to try that recipe and that technique, although I'm sure they take a lot of practice to master.

                                        Don't every hesitate to post on an older DOTM thread. There may be more activity during the actual month of a dish, but people can come back and add to the threads at any time.

                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          Thanks L.Nightshade - that's good to know!

                                          I hope you will update us if you try the recipe - my partner was all like: "you can't have carbs with a carb filling, that's just wrong" but I really thought it worked well.

                                          I might have to start a topic on that, just to see what the consensus is on the carb on carb thing.

                                          1. re: ursy_ten

                                            I completely understand that. I've always thought ravioli or pierogi stuffed with potato were very weird. But something about this really appeals to me. Maybe it's just the cute packaging. Maybe they'd be nice as a carb side to a small piece of protein? I don't know, but I'd like to work them in somehow!

                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                              Pierogi go so nice-nice with kielbasa, though. Now it makes me wish I had some. I only have the pierogi!

                                              Italians also do the double starch thing--there's potato scacciata (like a double-crusted stuffed pizza), gnocchi, just for two.

                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                there's a whole thread about double carb meals/dishes... if one carb is good, two are twice as nice!

                                          2. re: ursy_ten

                                            I finally got around to making these culurgiones last night. These were the most difficult pasta I've ever made! It took me about 15 ravioli before I made one that looked even remotely like those in the video. We experimented with pasta thickness, and the 2mm mentioned is about right. It's thicker than we usually use for ravioli or tortellini, but it works well for the braided edge. There's enough cheese in these that we didn't feel like we were just eating carbs inside of carbs. Serving them with butter, sage, saffron, and grated cheese was perfect; it let all the flavors come through. The recipe makes a lot of filling, I used the leftovers to make a sort of potato pancake this morning.

                                            I'll definitely make these again, and work on my technique. Reminder to myself: Cut nails short before attempting the braid.

                                            Thank you ursy_ten for sharing this and inspiring me!

                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                              Lol - they always make it look so easy in those videos, don't they?

                                              Yours look pretty awesome to me, especially for a first try. I can remember how tricky it was. I ended up with some pretty wonky specimens!

                                              Great job L.Nightshade - I hope this topic keeps going, I am a sucker for stuffed pasta!

                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                Wow--they are gorgeous. What stunning fruit of your labor.

                                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                  Thank you both, ursy_ten, and nomadchowwoman!
                                                  This was such an enjoyable experiment, and whatever level of compulsive disorder I can non-pathologically claim, I will use it to make these again and again, until I get them pretty darn good (notice I'm not striving for perfect, even thought it's in the back of my mind.

                                                  Ah, forget it. I'm not really very compulsive, but I do like to get foods accomplished as perfectly as possible. For this I probably need a good Sardinian playlist, and I have almost nil.

                                                  So on I go...

                                                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                    Aw, thank you nomadchowwoman! They were fun, once I got over the first frustrating few. I will definitely try them again!

                                              2. Late as always, but someone on WFD tipped me off to this thread. Made cannelloni for the first time last night, at the BF's request. turned out really yummy, but such an uber-rich dish, i doubt i'll make it very often. my filling consisted of ricotta, parm regg, sauteed spinach and garlic, an egg, s&p, minced scallions and spicy coppa. the coppa was indiscernible in all that richness - what with the bechamel and tomato sauces. i really did love the bechamel - so buttery and creamy, and i added fresh ground nutmeg. i couldn't imagine making one with more meat - i think they would be too heavy for me - although i'm sure delicious. i used dry cannelloni tubes as i could not find any fresh sheets to roll. and i've not ventured into making my own pasta yet.

                                                18 Replies
                                                1. re: mariacarmen

                                                  Mmmm! Those look and sound spectacular! Do you have a link to a recipe, or did you just make it up? I've not made cannelloni, but I'd like to take a stab at it.

                                                  BTW, never worry about posting too late; you can post any time to these DOTM threads.

                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                    thanks! i sort of followed this, for the filling, but used coppa because it's what i had. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                    and some other link i can't find right now for a bechamel.
                                                    and just winged it on the tomato sauce. a lot of the bechamels called for parm but the one i used didn't, which i think was fine in this application, since the dish has so much parm in it already.

                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                      Thanks! I've bookmarked the post and the link. Now all I need is the time!

                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                        I'd never heard of cured meats being used in the filling, that sounds interesting. I make mine with ground veal, if you want to try it again. It's more a texture thing than flavor.

                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          Proscuitto was mentioned in a lot of recipes I saw actually... I bet veal would not be as heavy as some of the gr. beef/sausage recipes I saw. I just don't like cooking or eating veal.

                                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                                            Mmmmmmm. VEEEEEEEEEEAL. I shall eat your portion. ;)

                                                            1. re: kattyeyes

                                                              oh it's delish, no doubt... I just can't. well, I could, and I have. the Oldster had no-teeth problems so i'd often slip him some veal without him knowing it. he would have hated it if he knew!

                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                OK I pulled out my recipe since I only make it once a year so don't have it memorized. I got this from a friend's grandmother back in the 1970s so it's very old fashioned. Proscuitto sounds to me like a modern touch, something maybe restaurant chefs came up with. If you don't like veal, ground pork can be used, just not beef.

                                                                Her secret? And I swear it's divine, just don't tell anyone squeamish. One or two chicken livers, makes it so rich. Otherwise I do my own pasta, part of the original recipe and a bit different than I usually make. Calls for one egg and one egg white. Anyway I couldn't change a thing at this point, I don't think. Although I've toyed with the idea of some chopped mushrooms in there with the spinach, so who knows.

                                                                The "besciamella" does not call for parmesan, although the filling has 5 Tbsp.

                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  Is it that time of year? You're not THAT far from me... ;)

                                                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                                                    Last time I made it was last July, so it's about time again I guess. As a matter of fact, my guests happened to be two different Chowhounds! I'll let you know ;-)

                                                                  2. re: coll

                                                                    I love livers, but I can't imagine making that dish MORE rich! I literally had three tubes total of it, it was so rich. the boyfriend, however, had no problem demolishing it. the chicken liver addition sounds great.

                                                                    yeah, I saw different iterations for everything - besciamella, filling, sauce... everyone seems to have their favorite!

                                                                    I think it's a dish i'd make once a year too, if the BF requested it. or good for a potluck.

                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                      I save it for the most important meal of the year usually. It takes about 3 hours start to finish, including the pasta, so it's not that bad.

                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                        yes, I did it in pieces, filling, sauce and besicamella in the morning, filling, topping and baking that evening. didn't use fresh pasta, tho, so that would up the time. or if I made my own pasta!

                                                                        it's not the time that would stop me from making it more than once a year tho, it's the richness of it!

                                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                          Most people eat two, maybe three. My recipe makes at least 30 so I have to make sure I have a big crowd!

                                                                          Mine are very small though, I fold them more into little packages rather than tubes, so the stuffing stays inside. It's a somewhat thin pasta so it breaks up anyway.

                                                                          1. re: coll

                                                                            I love the idea of a thin pasta.
                                                                            the BF atE FOUR at the first serving. last night, he ate like SIX. and he has no weight problem, the bastard!

                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                              I know! I eat two and then just sit back and watch everyone else pig out. And then offer doggie bags to all, saving only a couple for the next day.

                                                      2. re: mariacarmen

                                                        I was wondering when that dish would show up here. They looked so awesome!

                                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                                          Those look fabulous, mc! The coppa sounds great. I often use pancetta in the mix; next time I'm going to try some coppa.