So there I was the other night, looking in my pathetic empty cupboards and fridge. So much for a hot kitchen, we had an empty kitchen and it was getting late. I dug out what I could find and came up with half a box of manicotti, a butternut squash, and handful of hazelnuts, ground pork and ground turkey. Fortunately I had milk, butter, and an aresenal of herbs and spices on hand.
I thought back to a really tasty ravioli I’d eaten several years earlier. It was filled with butternut squash and walnuts, then topped with some sort of yummy, buttery sauce. The lights of creativity started to flicker in my head. I would start by filling the manicotti with a butternut filling and go from there.
After the squash was roasting, I set to work turning that ground meat into sausage. I took the “little bit o’ this, a dash of that approach” and started adding herbs and spices to the cold meat. Lots of garlic salt. A bit of regular salt. Some herbs, some chili flake, some seasoned salt, a touch of cumin, turmeric, anise seed and celery seed. I cooked a little off and tasted it. A few more pinches and dashes of this and that went into the bowl, then I cooked off a bit to go into the manicotti. The rest I shaped, cooked, and froze for breakfast in the coming days!
I was not impressed with this dish when I plated it. It just seemed like budget food to me-you know, feeds you, fills you up, gives you nutrition, but boring. Then my hubby took a bite and exploded with wows! Apparently I had made a heavenly entree from almost nothing. Who knew? I took a bite and felt the same way.
The manicotti was so good it had to be shared with you all on episode #70. While we ate, I wrote down my ingredients and measurements. For the sake of simplicity, I modified the recipe to call for hot sausage rather then try to re-create the homemade sausage. This menu should cost you about $10 to make, and is easy to make vegetarian by just subbing seasoned sauteed mushrooms for the sausage.
Northwest Manicotti is evidence to me that sometimes the greatest creations are born out of necessity. It was perfect the way it was made, too, just like you. 🙂