Being that my oven has been (and probably will perpetually be) broken, I try to find ways to make typically baked dishes on the stovetop. Manicotti is one of my favorite stuffed pastas, only slightly behind raviolis, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
Note: You’ll probably need a super wide frying pan, like the widest one you own. I think mine was 18″ or so, but if you don’t have anything that wide then you’ll have to either double up on the pans or do them in batches.
As with all good “baked” Italian dishes, the trifecta of main ingredients needed are cheese(s), sauce, and pasta.
You can buy jarred sauce of course, but I love my go-to easy sauce recipe. Start with sauteed onion for 10 minutes or so very low, then throw in some sliced garlic. If your kitchen doesn’t smell overwhelmingly pungent, then you’re doing it wrong.
From there, the tomato sauce and spices finish it off. The longer it can simmer, the better. Just throw a lid on it so it doesn’t spurt out onto the stovetop… like how I always forget to do. Trust me – there’s a reason why I always have to crop out my stovetop in these photos. It’s a hot mess.
While the simmering goes on, the filling needs to be prepared. I also use this same ricotta mixture for any baked pasta dish such as baked ziti, lasagna, and the likes.
And here comes the least fun part – stuffing the hard manicotti shells. If you have enough disposable zip-lock bags, stuff a corner of the bag into the bottom of a shallow mug or cup. It helps steady the bag and puts all the filling in one area. Once ready to stuff, cut the tip with a scissor and gently pipe the ricotta filling into each manicotti shell. It will take a few shells to get the hang of it.
Also, be prepared to make an entire fucking mess of your kitchen.
This part is a little tricky. Depending how many stuffed manicotti you have (which depends on how filled each is and how much filling there was to begin with), you’ll have to maneuver the shells around in the frying pan with the sauce. I was surprisingly able to fit 1 and a half packs of maniotti in an 18″ pan with hardly any overlap. It’s best that they all remain in one layer but tips of the pasta can slightly be touching.
Add justttt enough water to slightly cover the pasta. No measurements here – just use your best judgement.
If you have a lid that fits your pan, great! Lid it up and move along.
If you’re like me and have abandoned lids and pans scattered around the kitchen, your best bet is to (carefully!!!) wrap tin foil along the brim and fold over so hopefully no steam escapes.
It took about 25 minutes for me to get the pasta fully cooked through (granted I did have a few glasses of wine and probably didn’t put tin foil on the pan tight enough). But there’s nothing wrong with peeking in every so often to check on the texture of pasta.
Once the pasta is cooked to your desired texture, add mozzarella cheese and herbs while it’s warm and serve immediately. No one will ever know
your oven has been broken for years it came from your stovetop.
- 1-2 boxes of 8 oz dry manicotti
- 16 oz ricotta cheese
- 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
- 28 oz tomato sauce
- 1 egg
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- few cloves of garlic, chopped
- 4-8 oz mozzarella cheese, depending how cheesy you want it
- 1 tb oregano
- 1 tb basil
- 1 tb garlic powder
- 1/2 tb red chili flakes
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- salt/pepper to taste
- In the widest frying pan you have, saute the chopped onions with some vegetable oil on medium-low heat. After 10 minutes or so of continuous stirring, add the chopped garlic. Saute for a minute more until fragrant. Onion should be somewhat translucent.
- On medium heat now, add the tomato sauce to the pan and stir around. Adjusting to personal taste, add the oregano, basil, garlic powder, red chili flakes, and salt & pepper. (I use slightly more seasoning than what is listed above, but just start with a little and add more if necessary).
- If you have a lid that fits the pan, perfect – leave it slightly ajar so the tomato sauce doesn’t spurt all over the stovetop. If not, a piece of tin foil will help to prevent any splatter while preparing the manicotti.
- Separately, in a large bowl, add the ricotta, spinach, parmesan cheese, and egg. Mix around until thoroughly binded. Eyeball add any salt, pepper, garlic powder, or red pepper flakes if you wish.
- Create a manicotti stuffing station. Have a regular sized mug or ramekin on the counter and place a zip-lock bag with one of the bottom corners into the center. Scoop the filling into the bag, trying to keep it all into that one corner. When the bag is about half-full but still able to handle with just one hand, tighten the top by twisting a few times over. It should resemble a piping bag used for cake icing.
- Hold the bag firmly in one hand and cut approx a 1/4 inch opening along the zip-lock corner with the filling. Gently push the filling from the top down into the pasta shell. Make sure not to push too hard or the plastic bag may rip. Use as many plastic bags as necessary to fill as many shells as possible.
- In the pot with the simmering sauce, quickly mix everything around to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Then add each manicotti, pushing its way to the bottom of the pan. I was able to fit 20 or so in my 18″ pan (granted, with a little overlapping). If there’s not enough space for all pasta shells, hold back with some sauce and use another pan or just wait for the current batch to finish. Overlapping won’t help the pasta cook through evenly.
- Once all the pasta is in place, add a little water to jut cover the tippety-top of them. Maybe a cup or so depending on the size of the pan.
- Cover the pan again with the lid (or the makeshift tin foil lid), and simmer on low for about 20 minutes. I’d check the pasta’s doneness after about 15 minutes or so. Just poke a fork through and you’ll be able to tell if it’s ready. Mine took about 25 with a tin foil lid.
- Once cooked through, turn off the heat, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese (as much as you’d like) and any herbs for garnish. Serve immediately while the cheese is melty.