There are many different kinds of pasta. Manicotti is shaped like a tube, and once cooked, its diameter expands to about 1 to 4 inches. This makes it the ideal pasta for “stuffing” for a burst of goodness in every bite. Manicotti is usually stuffed with cheeses and meats, though there are variations with seafood or vegetables (or even a little bit of everything). After the ingredients are mixed, the manicotti is usually placed in a casserole dish and then baked under layers of cheese and tomato sauce. Manicotti is made from semolina flour and water (some cooks add eggs—it’s a matter of preference).
Manicotti, like other pastas, are a big staple of the Italian diet. Many believe that pastas were “invented” in Italy, though there are others who point out that Asians have been eating noodles for many centuries. There is also evidence that the ancient Jews ate boiled noodles as early as the fifth century. However, pasta still tends to be associated with Italians, mainly because the country remains to be the world’s biggest supplier of durum wheat—a key component in pasta that is said to produce superior, high quality noodles.
Pasta’s popularity was due to its convenience, affordability and versatility. In the days of sea travel dried pasta provided filling food that was easy to store and less prone to mold and rot. Today, people love the fact that it lends itself to so many different kinds of flavors and even uses. It can be used as a main course, a soup, or a salad. It can be served with a simple tomato sauce or part of an elaborate recipe that requires as many as five different cheeses.