(Baked Manicotti with Seven Cheeses and Spicy Hot)
As Sarah, a grand daughter used to call this dish when she was a pre-schooler-
Arrabiata is derived from the verb, arrabiare, which translates as," to drive one mad, to enrage, to fill with fury.” This
gives an Italian diner some idea of the amount of "hotness" to expect in his food. But, even with this description there are levels
or degrees of "hot". Italians approach this problem with the same sophistication as a physicist who thinks about the energy levels
within an atom. It is part of the theory that an electron can only exist in certain discrete levels of energy. It can move from level
to level but cannot exist between levels. A change from one level to another, whether it is an increase or decrease of energy, is
known as a quantum leap. In Italy, the diner knows that the hotness of his food can only exist in discrete "hotness" levels. To express
his desired level, he uses a graphic motion with his right hand. (The only way Italians can effectively communicate). He brings the
fingers of his right hand together, palm down, much like he was about to direct a karate chop. The lowest level (known as the ground
state in physics) is at the hips. For the next level of hotness he brings his hand up to his belt. (There is no level between). The
level after that has his hand across his chest and after that up to his neck and finally, up to his forehead. I have yet to meet anyone
who asked for a forehead level. There may be some out there but they are probably still trying to use their voices, drinking water
and trying to catch their breaths. I, personally, like my sauce at the chest level. Once I made a quantum leap up to neck level but
I regretted it for the rest of the meal.
1/2 lb lasagna strips
1 lb ricotta
1 large egg
4 oz Sargento Six Cheese Italian Blend (Romano,
Asiago, Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan and Fontina)
28 oz can peeled whole ITALIAN tomatoes (San Marzano preferably)
2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion chopped
1/2-cup olive oil
Red pepper seeds (one teaspoonful for chest-level, depending
on age of seeds)
Italian parsley, oregano, basil and mint
Pour the olive oil into a saucepan and add the chopped onions, garlic cloves
and seasonings. Heat until onions are transparent.
Crush the tomatoes with a fork, add and stir until blended with oil. Stir in an
extra pinch of seasonings. Add the chicken broth.
Let the sauce come to a full boil and add salt to taste and an additional pinch of
herbs (no red pepper)
Simmer over medium heat uncovered for about one hour.
Bring four quarts of water to boil and add lasagna strips.
Three manicotti can be made from one strip. Blend the ricotta, six-cheese blend, egg and a pinch of fresh parsley in
Place a spoonful of mixture onto 1/3 lasagna strip and roll to make it look like a cannoli. Pour a small amount of sauce into
baking dish and line with manicottis.
Use a second layer if necessary, but pour a little sauce between.
Add sauce to top layer. Sprinkle
with grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for an hour.