Our Grandma Rose, a seasoned cook and mother of six, is known to effortlessly whip up hearty Italian feasts at any hour of the day. Our dad told us a story of visiting my mom’s family on Long Island: Late-night TV watching often turned into midnight meals, and once, our grandma casually pulled a turkey out of the oven. That’s just how she is.
Always one to offer you a hot yam, our Grandma Rose loves cooking and has the ability to bring people together through food, and we are always learning from her—especially since she’s got tricks up her sleeve.
This is one of the best things we learned from her: In her small but mighty kitchen, she taught us an ingenious trick for stuffing manicotti—large tubes of pasta filled with ricotta, smothered in sauce, and baked.
The method for filling the pasta with ricotta is tedious and time-consuming, requiring a piping bag or skinny spoon and a delicate touch. While we love baked pasta, we used to shy away from manicotti, lacking the patience and precision required to pipe each tube, one at a time. Our grandmother’s simple and foolproof trick makes it easy to prepare this classic Italian meal.
How Grandma Rose Stuffs Manicotti the Easy Way
Start by cooking the manicotti (“little sleeves” in Italian) until al dente and making the ricotta filling. Then, cover the bottom of the baking dish with sauce.
This is where Granda Rose’s trick comes into play. Forget the pastry or piping bag; you only need kitchen shears and a spoon.
Use shears to cut each manicotti lengthwise, opening up the tube into one flat sheet of pasta. (You aren’t reading that wrong! She cuts the pasta on purpose.) Then, spoon two to three tablespoons of the ricotta mixture along the center of the flattened manicotti. Gently roll the manicotti back into a tubular shape, and place it seam-side down in the baking dish. This will prevent the pasta from opening up as it bakes. If the ends don’t meet, you’ve overstuffed them, so simply take out some ricotta.
Repeat until your baking dish is full, top with sauce and mozzarella, and bake until bubbly. When everything is smothered in sauce and cheese, the slit in the manicotti goes unnoticed, and your loved ones won’t complain when they bite into the cheesy decadence.