Onion Masala Manicotti Pasta Recipe (+Giveaway)

Onion Masala Manicotti Pasta Recipe (+Giveaway) Recipe

I came up with this new dish after I received masala marinara pasta sauce from our friend Dave of DavesGourmet.com. This special sauce was the winner of the Sofi Award for outstanding pasta sauce in 2010. The sauce is very creative and definitely has a South Asian flair with hints of ginger, coconut and kaffir lime leaves. It's a must try.

Since the sauce itself is a fusion of cultures, I thought it would be fun to continue the theme and make an Italian pasta dish with Indian flavors. I made Indian-style pearl onions cooked in onion masala sauce, called dopiaza. I used that mixture to flavor manicotti stuffed with ricotta cheese and a generous helping of French triple cream cheese. If that sounds a bit decadent to you, well, it is!

If you're itching to try the sauce I used in this dish, Dave's Gourmet kindly agreed to be a part of our 25 days of giveaways. For a chance at winning, just go to our 25 Days of Giveaways page and enter. We'll announce the winner tomorrow!

Make sure you're a fan of PhamFatale Facebook fan page and Dave's Gourmet or follow @Phamfatalecom and tweet about this giveaway. To make it easy, you can just copy and paste this tweet if you’d like: "Dave's Gourmet Pasta Sauce #HolidayGiveaway from @Phamfatalecom and @DavesGourmet: http://bit.ly/vVk4L8".


Yields: 6 servings

1 (10-ounce) bag pearl onions, peeled (see tips)
1 (8-ounce) package manicotti pasta, cooked
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 green cardamom pods
3 leeks (green part only), thinly sliced
5 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon red chili powder
3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (see tips)
1-¼ teaspoons garam masala
6 tablespoons plain yogurt
½ (25.5-ounce) jar masala marinara sauce (see tips)
8 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3-½ cups milk, warmed for 2 minutes in the microwave
10 ounce ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons triple cream cheese (optional)
6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper


Making dopiaza (onion curry sauce):

In a saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil. Cook the yellow onion for about 6-8 minutes until soft and nicely golden. Leaving as much oil as possible in the pan, transfer to a platter. Set aside.

In the same saucepan, add 1 more tablespoon oil. Add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, cardamom pods, red chili powder and garam masala. Once the ginger garlic paste is fragrant, add the cooked yellow onions and yogurt. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

Transfer half the amount of cooked sauce into a blender. Coarsely blend the mixture and pour it back into the saucepan. Add the whole pearl onions. Add 2 cups of water; the water should barely cover the pearl onions. Bring to a boil then lower to a gentle simmer; cook, covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Salt (1 teaspoon) half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the onions and they'll be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the onions don't stick to the bottom of the pot.

Check the liquid and periodically add more water. If you're afraid that the onions will burn before getting tender, add a little more water if the liquid is reduced. The texture of the pearl onions should be soft but they shouldn't fall apart. Adjust seasoning. Transfer to a bowl.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dopiaza masala sauce for the béchamel sauce.

For the béchamel sauce:

In a saucepan, melt the ghee over medium-low heat; you don't want it to burn. Bring the heat back up to medium-high (the ghee should be hot and golden) and add the flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 3 minutes. The flour should absorb the ghee and form a paste. Add the milk in 3 stages and stir well until fully incorporated. Increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Add the reserved dopiaza sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Prepping the onion manicotti filling:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium-sized pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the leeks and cook for about 6-8 minutes until slightly golden. Season with salt and pepper. Add the dopiaza. Turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool.

Add the ricotta cheese and triple cream cheese to the onion mixture. Mix well. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.

Assembly time:

In a large casserole dish lined with parchment paper and sprayed with oil (for easy clean up), spread a layer of masala marinara sauce first.

Stuff the manicotti with the onion mixture and place the stuffed pasta shells into the pan. Ladle the béchamel sauce over the manicotti shells. It should cover the whole tray. Sprinkle on the rest of the Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 5 minutes at 375°F, lower the temperature to 350°F and cook for another 25 minutes. Broil for about 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden top (if necessary). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Bon appétit!

Manicotti Pasta Recipe with Picture


Little reminder on how to make ginger garlic paste: Clean one (2-inch) chunk of fresh ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, then finely chop it. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender and add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.

You can order the masala marinara pasta sauce directly from Dave's Gourmet store. Check out my other pasta (gnocchi dish) recipe using their exquisite butternutsquash sauce.

Gourmet pasta sauce recipe with picture

An easy way to peel pearl onions is to blanch them. Place the whole onions in a saucepan filled with boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain the onions and transfer to a bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. Let them sit for a few minutes until the onions are cool. Drain the onions and you'll see they're much easier to peel.

If you want to save some time, you can use frozen pearl onions that you've thawed. I find the texture to be slightly different. The frozen ones release their water and shrink in size, whereas the fresh pearl onions have a better consistency.

Ghee is the Indian version of clarified butter. You can find it in jars at Indian stores. But if you don't have ghee, you can use butter instead.

You can either make your own garam masala spice mix or buy it at any Indian store.

To make béchamel sauce, I always make sure all the ingredients are at the same temperature, so be sure to heat the milk in the microwave for about 2 minutes (or in a saucepan), so it's warm. If you get lumpy pieces in the sauce, don't hesitate to use a hand blender.

And if you're a pasta lover, check out my other pasta dishes.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on December 2, 2011.


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