Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Wednesday, May 26, 2004

If I had a food Time Tunnel I would travel back to my youth and teach myself how to make this stuffed pasta dish.
The lengthy and possibly intimidating prep rewards cook and guests with a tantalizing combination of flavors and textures.
This dish makes a fantastic party presentation and a delicious hot or cold leftover.
The Rule of Three comes not from Sherlock Holmes but from my mother.
With regard to the cooking of fruit and vegetables, the use of three different types of plant varieties or similarly flavored items generally and I guess obviously boosts flavor.
In this tomato meat sauce, the combination of canned tomatoes, V-8 and bouillon comprise the Rule of Three.
Keep plenty of sauce in reserve as the manicotti absorbs this liquid as it bakes.
A few days ago in the new grocery, where there always seems to be a small knot of ladies discretely observing my purchases, I heard a little voice say, “Is that rhubarb? I didn’t know they still sold it.”
“Oh, yes”, I said. “It’s sold for a short while every spring”
The lady, maybe a few years older than myself, of a sudden, looked wistfully reflective and said, “Oh, we used to eat that every year. My mother would cook it and leave it in a bowl in the refrigerator and we’d eat it with sugar.”
I said, “Well, it’s easy to prepare and like any high-color fruit or vegetable it is very good for you. Plus,” I said while pointing, “It’s right over there.”
From the reaction, prior to her eye-glazed tune-out, my suggestion seemed akin to recommending anesthetic-free do-it-yourself home surgery.
However, I’m confidant she’d damn near break her arm scrambling to acquire a memory-soothing and tangy whipped-cream or ice-cream crowned dish of the wonderful Rhubarb Crisp described below…

Cheese-stuffed Manicotti (or Cannelloni) with Rule of 3 Tomato Meat Sauce

In a large saucepan fry 1 lb. mild sausage in 1 Tbsp Olive Oil breaking meat apart into small pieces.

In a large bowl, combine:
2 14 oz. cans of peeled Tomatoes (I use Red Gold)
1 Tsp Tomato Bouillon (or Caldo de Tomate in a Latin Grocery)
1 5.5 oz. can of V-8
I chopped and peeled White Onion
2 Tsp dry Basil or 10-12 fresh leaves (fresh or dry Marjoram also works)
½ Tsp Oregano
5 peeled Garlic cloves
1 Tsp Sea Salt
½ Tsp Black Pepper
Pulse this tomato mixture, in two seperate batches, in a blender until pulpy.

Add Tomato mixture to browned Sausage.
Add 2 14 oz. cans of Chicken Broth.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and, then, simmer approximately one hour.

Boil for one half it’s recommended cooking time and drain in cold water one entire package of manicotti.
Keep pasta damp until it is stuffed.


1 24 oz. container of Ricotta Cheese
1 handful fresh Parsley, chopped
2 beaten Eggs
1 lb. Provolone Cheese, half cubed and half sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine Cheese, Parsley, Eggs, seasoning and Provolone cubes.

Preheat oven to 400

Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with sauce.
Stuff cooled manicotti with Egg/Cheese mixture.
Place stuffed manicotti into the sauced baking dish.
I use a small spatula but you could use a pastry bag.
If you use a pastry bag make sure the Provolone cubes will pass through the tip.
Arrange sliced Provolone and Basil leaves over top of stuffed manicotti.
Add a few more dollops of sauce and, if desired, sprinkle with grated Parmesan Cheese.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes.
Reserve warm sauce for portion presentation.

Rhubarb Crisp
Oven at 375


1 cup all purpose Flour
½ cup packed light Brown Sugar
½ cup old-fashioned Oats
½ Tsp Cinnamon
10 Tbsp chilled Butter cut into cubes

Add Flour, Sugar, Oats and Cinnamon in a medium bowl or food processor.
Add butter.
Pulse or combine with a pastry cutter or fork until moist clumps form.


6-7 stalks of Rhubarb, trimmed and cut into small chunks
1 ½ cups Sugar
3 Tbsp quick-cooking Tapioca
2 Tbsp fresh Lemon juice
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a 13x9x2-baking dish.
Cover with topping.
Bake 40 minutes or until fruit bubbles and topping appears browned.
Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Photos:, University of Illinois Extension, Irwin Allen News Network

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