This Baked Manicotti with Spinach features a tasty ricotta filling…
it’s the perfect comfort food for a chilly night!
What is your all-time favorite comfort food? Just the term ‘comfort food’ evokes so many different thoughts for me. I guess comfort food depends on the time of day as well as time of the year, right? Mornings call for blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls. Evenings call for creamy mac & cheese and delicious burgers. The Fall calls for anything and everything apple. Winter calls for hot soups that warm you from the inside out.
But Italian food. Italian food is a year-round comfort food around here. Heck, I think it might even qualify as an all-day comfort food, too. If someone offered me this Baked Manicotti with Spinach for breakfast, I would gladly accept!
One of the best things about Italian cuisine is just how easy it is to make. I once heard a chef say that since Italian dishes often have only a few ingredients, therefore you should always buy the best quality ingredients that your budget will allow. #GoodAdvice.
While I was making this Baked Manicotti with Spinach, I got to thinking about other little tips and tricks that I use frequently in the kitchen. For instance, this recipe calls for some fresh basil. We always plant basil in our garden which is great for summer recipes. However, in the winter, I have to resort to buying fresh basil.
But here’s a good tip for fresh herbs: skip the produce section at the grocery store. Instead, go to the garden center and pick up a pot of the herb in question. Use what you need, then plant the rest in a pot outside of your backdoor. The cost is usually about the same…or even cheaper. (Of course, this tip only really works in the spring and summer. But still. I’ve done this more times than I can count.)
I do love spending time in the kitchen, but I still like to cut corners when I can. One of my favorite little time-saving tricks? Keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge. ~1/2 tsp of minced garlic equals a clove of fresh garlic. I find that fresh garlic is a pain to chop. So I just save the time and use the pre-minced stuff in the jar.
Speaking of ingredients, let’s talk ricotta. My wife will tell you that one of my pet peeves is a pasta dish with a bunch of water in the bottom of the plate. This often comes from just not letting the pasta drain enough, but it can come from the ricotta, too. Recipes never tell you to drain ricotta before using it, but it’s such a handy little trick. I just put a piece of cheesecloth in a colander. Then I put the ricotta in the colander and place the whole thing over a bowl in the fridge. Come back several hours later, and you’ll see that the ricotta has drained out a good amount of liquid. Liquid that otherwise would have ended up at the bottom of my plate.
Oh, and one more tip and then I’ll zip it up…at least for today. Use a piping bag fitted with a large round tip to fill the manicotti. Yup, the same type of piping bag and tip that you might use for cupcakes. Or these Lemon Blueberry Almond Bites. Except fill it with a ricotti mixture instead of lemon filling. I’ve tried filling manicotti with a spoon. Talk about a mess! Now I just pull out the pastry bag instead.
What are some of your favorite time-saving tips for the kitchen?
What is your favorite comfort food?