Mmm… Tastes Like Bacon (Artichoke Manicotti)

26 Feb

Feeling creative and patient (patience doesn’t come to me easily) Saturday night, I decided to tackle one of the more complicated recipes I’ve ever prepared.  I was going to do Italian, without shortcuts, without cheating.  And even though this manicotti is completely vegetarian, I was informed by others who tried the dish that it tastes like bacon.  If you don’t believe me, try out the recipe for yourself.  But I have to warn you, it’s definitely not a 30 minute meal.

Artichoke Manicotti
Served with a simple side salad (spinach, basil, carrots, grated herbed feta, pine nuts, and Balsamic vinaigrette) and a glass of Sangiovese from Bluff Dale Vineyards.  Recipe based on menu item from Eastside Cafe in Austin, Texas.

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For the Filling:
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
12 sun-dried tomatoes, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil (packed), minced (I actually put the sun-dried tomatoes and the basil together in the food processor to make it somewhat quicker)
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 cups grated mozzarrella cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup skim ricotta cheese
1 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350.  Process pistachios in a food processor until coarsely chopped.  Place pistachios on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 10 minutes.  Set aside.

In the mean time, heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat.  Saute onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and onions are soft and translucent.  Add sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic.  Saute for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine mozzarrella, Parmesan, and ricotta.  Add in mushroom-onion mixture, roasted pistachios, salt and a pinch of black pepper, and combine well.  Add in drained and coarsely chopped artichoke hearts and incorporate into other ingredients.

For the Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 sun-dried tomatoes, minced
6 oz can tomato sauce (ok this is a little bit of a shortcut)
1 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
pinch of black pepper

Simmer whipping cream, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato sauce in a medium saucepan for 15 minutes over low heat.  Remove from heat and add in sour cream, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Whisk together until smooth.

Assembly:
3/4 lb cooked to al dente manicotti shells
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.  Stuff manicotti shells/tubes with the artichoke mushroom cheese filling.  Place manicotti in a 11″ x 17″ baking dish.  Completely cover manicotti with sun-dried tomato cream sauce.  Top with grated Parmesan.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Serves 6

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One Response to “Mmm… Tastes Like Bacon (Artichoke Manicotti)”

  1. Jamie Martinez 06/11/2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Having lived in Austin the last 7 years, this by far is my favorite restaurant and meal. In fact, it was the last meal I had before I left Texas and moved to Georgia. Thank you for putting your own inspired recipe together. I cannot wait to try it!

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