Some things in this world are marginalized to the extent that they are rarely thought of. Take lemons, for instance. More specifically…lemon zest.
Now, I know that compared to recent events in the Middle East, your average zest may seem rather trivial, but to a dish, it can be the difference between an ordinary manicotti and a manicotti of extraordinary flavor.
Lemon zest, put in places not usually mentioned (no, not there) can trick the palate into thinking that your usual dish has become something altogether different.
That’s what happened to my manicotti. I decided to add some to the spinach and garlic I sauteed in olive oil. I also added a bit more into the ricotta cheese-egg mixture, to which I also added in the sauteed spinach, along with some pre-grated cheese combo of fontina, parmesean, mozzarella, and some others can’t recall, sea salt, cracked pepper, and dried oregano from last summer’s garden. This became the filling. I cheated and used some store-bought sauce. As Kaukab would say, “So, sue me!” (She’s been known to do the same, so I feel fully vindicated in admitting as much.)
Here’s what it looked like:
Single Serving Size
Here’s the whole pan:
Two Boxes Worth (16 oz. total)
I followed most of the boxed directions. Except, I used three eggs, total versus the two-per-package noted. And, I used one large container of ricotta (30 oz. and drained of any liquid) for both boxes and a 45 oz.-sized jar of marinara sauce, as well as an 8 oz. bag of frozen spinach, defrosted and the liquid drained. I used two cloves garlic, minced and extra virgin olive oil to saute with. All of the cheese used came from an 8 oz. bag of the cheese combo described earlier. I used about 2 or 3 oz. of it to blend in to the ricotta mixture and the rest got sprinkled atop the manicotti. There were enough manicotti shells to make two layers, so I poured about 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of the pan, then the first layer of manicotti, then another 1/4 on top, then the second layer, and finished off with the rest of the sauce. Then, sprinkled with the cheese and
covered with foil and into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then, remove foil and bake another 10 minutes.
In the end, you’ll have a wonderful, zesty dish of manicotti. Even the boys liked it! Despite all the questions about spinach from drummer boy.