Manicotti Quattro Formaggi
From Chef Peter DeRuvo of Sassi
2 15-ounce containers of whole-milk ricotta
2 Egg yolks, large
8 ounces Fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 T Grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, plus more for rolling and finishing the pasta
3 T Grated pecorino cheese
2 ounces Baked ham, from a deli slice 1/8 inch thick, cut into very small dice
1/3 C Fresh basil, roughly chopped, plus 8 sprigs for garnish
1 1/2 tsp. Fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. Fresh ground black pepper
16 pieces Fresh pasta sheets, cut into 4-inch by 6-inch rectangles
3 T Extra virgin olive oil
3 C Fresh tomato sauce (recipe follows)
Stir the ricotta with egg yolks in a mixing bowl to a smooth consistency. Mix in the mozzarella, parmigiano, pecorino, ham, basil, salt and pepper, adding more seasoning if needed. The flavor should be a little salty. In a large pot of boiling water, cook half of the pasta until it is soft. Do not make it too soft, since it will cook again (and not too stiff so it is pliable). Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness and freshness of the pasta.
Remove the pasta with a skimmer and transfer to a bowl of cold water. Repeat procedure for the remaining pasta. Drain the pasta. Scatter some of the parmigiano cheese on a work surface and arrange the pasta in a single layer so the long side is vertically placed on the table. Sprinkle more of the parmigiano on the pasta.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon about a 1/4 cup of the filling on the bottom and center of each piece of pasta. Roll the cheese in the pasta until it is covered by one thickness of the pasta. Fold the sides toward the center over the cheese area and the remainder of each piece. Continue to roll to the other edge, making sure the sides stay inside the roll. Carefully roll the piece so the edge is under the center of the filled portion. Gently press down to make sure it will not unravel.
Brush one tablespoon of oil on the bottom of an 11″ x 14″ baking dish. Coat the bottom of the dish with one cup of the tomato sauce. Arrange the manicotti in the dish. Spoon the remaining sauce over the pasta. Cover with aluminum foil and bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes, until you see the pasta inflates a bit as a result of steam inside each piece.
Transfer two pieces to each serving plate. Finish with some grated cheese and drizzle olive oil. Garnish with a basil sprig. Serve hot.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Makes about 3 cups
2 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, peeled
1/2 C Yellow onion, finely chopped
2 T Pure olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. Fine sea salt
1 tsp. Sugar
Puree the tomatoes in a food processor or pass through a food mill. Heat the onion and olive oil together in a sauce pan large enough to hold the tomato puree over medium-low heat. A pot lined with stainless steel works best as it will not affect the flavor of the sauce. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the onion is very soft, translucent, but not caramelized, five to eight minutes from when the onion starts to sizzle.
Add the tomato puree, salt and sugar. Stir to combine with the onion and oil. Adjust heat so sauce boils slowly and evenly, stirring from the bottom so the tomato solids do not cluster and burn. Simmer 30 to 35 minutes, until most of the water has been cooked out and the sauce starts to thicken. The bubbles in the sauce will appear to be resting at the top surface. Check the seasoning and add salt or sugar to taste if needed. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to three months.