Classic Manicotti Recipe

Delicate homemade crepes and a velvety fresh tomato sauce celebrate the end of summer.
September 23, 2020, 11:00am
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Serves 8
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours


for the sauce:  2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 medium zucchini (about 10 ounces|300 grams), roughly chopped 
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped 
3 garlic cloves, smashed 
2 pounds|900 grams fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped 
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
1 ½ cups|20 grams basil, plus more to garnish 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
granulated sugar, to taste (optional)

for the crepes:
6 large eggs
2 ¼ cups|340 grams “00” flour 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
4 tablespoons|65 grams unsalted butter

for the filling:  3 cups|700 grams ricotta cheese 
2 cups|140 grams grated fontina cheese 
2 cups30 grams roughly chopped baby arugula, plus more to garnish
½ cup|60 grams grated parmesan 
2 large eggs 
1 lemon, zested and juiced 
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add the zucchini and onion and cook until lightly golden and soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper and let the mixture bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the tomatoes have begun to cook down and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and butter and season with salt and pepper. Cool slightly, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor and purée.
  2. Make the crepes. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with 1 ½ cups|375 ml cold water. Add the flour and salt, whisking until a smooth, pourable batter forms. If the batter is too thick whisk in 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time until the batter pours easily.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon of the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium. Ladle about ⅓ cup|80 ml batter into the skillet, tilting the skillet so the bottom is entirely coated. Cook until the bottom of the crepe is set and just golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Invert the crepe over a clean kitchen towel to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding butter to the skillet as needed.
  4. Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, fontina, parmesan, arugula, eggs, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper.
  5. Heat the oven to 425°F. Spread 1 cup|250 ml of sauce in the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Place one crepe, golden-side-up, on a clean work surface. Add a scant ½ cup|100 grams of the filling in a line across the bottom and delicately roll. Place the crepe, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes until the baking dish is filled snugly. Spread 3 cups of sauce over the manicotti, then tightly cover with aluminum foil. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and garnish with more basil and arugula. Serve with any extra sauce on the side.

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