Cheese and Sausage Manicotti
 
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces Italian sweet sausages with fennel seeds
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes with basil
  • ⅛ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, slivered
  • 2 cups fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese or one 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mild provolone cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 pound manicotti (large tubular pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Instructions
  1. Pierce each sausage several times with tip of knife. Place sausages in heavy large saucepan; add onion. Cover; cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes. Turn sausages over; stir onion. Cover and continue to cook until sausages release some fat and onion begins to color, about 5 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to medium. Add wine and simmer until wine evaporates and onion is golden, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes with juices and puree in a food processor. Add crushed red pepper. Add to sausages. Simmer very gently over low heat until sauce thickens and reduces to about 2 cups, stirring sauce and turning sausages occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Using tongs, transfer sausages to plate and cool. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper and 1 tsp. sugar. Add slivered basil and simmer sauce 5 minutes longer.
  3. Place ricotta in medium bowl. Mix in ¾ cup provolone, ¼ cup grated Parmesan, and black pepper. Cut sausages into ¼-inch cubes; stir into cheese mixture. Season filling to taste with salt. (Sauce and filling can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.)
  4. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until still somewhat firm to bite and about ¾ cooked, about 7 minutes (depending on brand). Using tongs, carefully transfer pasta from pot to foil-lined baking sheet and cool.
  5. Coat the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with non stick cooking spray; spread 3 tablespoons sauce over. Using a modified plastic bag, fill each of tube with cheese-sausage mixture. Arrange stuffed pasta in single layer in prepared dish and spoon remaining sauce over. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; let stand at room temperature.)
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup Parmesan and ¼ cup provolone atop the sauce. Bake uncovered until heated through and sauce is bubbling on bottom of dish, about 20 minutes.
  7. Let the manicotti stand 5 minutes and serve.
Recipe by Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice at http://kathleenssugarandspice.com/2011/10/25/cheese-and-sausage-manicotti-for-a-new-mommy-and-daddy/