Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Manicotti, one dinner, four ways

One dinner, four ways. 
Yesterday was my turn in the "mealtrain" that has been making sure my friend L and her family are eating well since her surgery.

Since I made manicotti for L almost 10 years ago when her older daughter was born I thought it would be fun to do it again.  Since I was cooking on a weekday, I was hoping to make the same for my own family to save time but herein lies the problem:

L is a vegetarian
My son is allergic to dairy
I am gluten free

After a bit of consideration here is what I did.

1. For L and her family I made the recipe as listed above.  Sorry about the flash obscuring some says "in a pan heat."  I did add sauteed onions to the mix and a little dried basil...because I can't leave recipes alone.  I substituted half the Parmesan with mozzarella because I like the cheese to be a little more gooey.  I also didn't steam the spinach first, totally unnecessary! (top right in picture)

2. For my husband and daughter I made a second batch in the same way but I used precooked Italian sausage instead of mushrooms.   I cooked the sausage the night before, just squeeze meat out of sausages, discard skin and cook meat like any ground meat. (top left in picture)

3. For myself I made a polenta bake, I crumbled most of a package of polenta (the tube from Trader Joes) in the bottom of an 8X8 baking dish and covered with some spaghetti sauce.  Then I added the ricotta/spinach/Parmesan/mozzarella/sausage mixture prepared in the same way as above.  I topped with more spaghetti sauce and then sprinkled 1/4 cup each shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.  I baked covered at 350 for 45 minutes. (bottom left in picture)

4. For my son, I reserved 4 manicotti.  I used the last bit of polenta, about 1/3 cup and mixed with about the same amount of the cooked Italian sausage.  I added some spaghetti sauce and then about 1/4 cup of non-dairy "cheese."  I use Daiya brand.  I stuffed the 4 manicotti with this mixture and then followed the same instructions as the Manicotti above, some sauce in the pan and more on top of the manicotti. (bottom right in picture)

In the end this did not save ANY fact it was hectic and a bit crazy to make all of these variations but I also found the process of accommodating all these dietary requirements quite amusing.

Everyone enjoyed their meals. 
L specifically mentioned how pleased she was to have mushrooms and spinach in her manicotti. 
My son was thrilled to eat something that normally would be full of allergy inducing cheese and he loved the taste of my concoction. 
My polenta bake as amazing...I didn't miss the pasta at all.  And of course my husband and daughter loved their gooey traditional manicotti.

I don't recommend cooking like this often...but it made me happy to please everyone!


  1. Haha! Hardly, Claire, but I was quite proud of my efforts and just enjoyed some rally yummy polenta bake leftovers!