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Manicotti Pasta: Everything About the Shape

Commonly known as the American version of cannelloni, manicotti is a large, tube-shaped pasta that’s typically filled and topped with a sauce. Are you familiar with it?

Manicotti, which means “little sleeves” in Italian, is considered a part of Italian-American cuisine. Much like cannelloni, these large pasta tubes are made to be stuffed and baked. 

Today, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about manicotti pasta, and we’ll even share a few dishes you can try at home. 

Manicotti: Origin and Meaning

Here’s a table with essential facts about manicotti: 

Pasta Shape:Manicotti
Pasta Type:Tube-shaped Pasta
Meaning:Italian term for “Little Sleeves”
Similar Shapes:Cannelloni, Reigatoni

Where Did Manicotti Originate?

Although manicotti is said to have originated in Italy, it is most closely associated with Americans. It is believed that this particular pasta shape was created as a way to use up leftover dough scraps.  

Today, this pasta is a popular dish that can be seen not just in the US or Italy, but all over the world. Because of its versatility, it can be served as an appetizer, a main course, or even as a side dish. 

What Does Manicotti Mean?

The word “manicotti” directly translates to “little sleeves.” This is due to its large hollow shape that closely resembles shirt sleeves. Traditionally, manicotti starts out flat. It is then stuffed and rolled, then sauced and baked. However, factory versions make manicotti by extruding the dough through a circular mold. 

What Is the Difference Between Manicotti and Cannelloni?

It is a common misconception that manicotti and cannelloni are the same. Visually, manicotti is larger, thicker, and wider than cannelloni. It also features ridges and pointy edges as opposed to cannelloni’s flat surface. 

Aside from this, manicotti is traditionally served with a ricotta cheese mixture. Opting for purely meat stuffing generally implies cannelloni and not manicotti. 

Depending on your personal preference and the availability of these pasta shapes, both manicotti and cannelloni can be considered interchangeable. 

Traditional Dishes Suitable for Manicotti Pasta

Here are some traditional dishes you can make with manicotti pasta:

Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

The most traditional way to enjoy manicotti is by stuffing it with a spinach and ricotta mixture. However, you can experiment with this by substituting the spinach with other leafy greens such as kale. You can even add unorthodox ingredients like artichoke hearts to the mix. This is then topped with a savory tomato sauce along with freshly grated cheese, and then it gets baked in the oven until the cheese gets bubbly. 

Beef and Cheese Manicotti

Browning up some ground beef or Italian sausages is a surefire way to elevate your manicotti stuffing. Simply cook the beef separately and mix it in with your traditional manicotti filling. 

These simple but delicious dishes are just a few ways to enjoy manicotti pasta.  

Final Thoughts 

It’s hard to go wrong with manicotti pasta. Is there a better way to impress your dinner guests than stuffing large pasta shells with a creamy cheese filling, topping it off with a tangy marinara sauce? We think not. 

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