Created and perfected by Alisha Brisson Stamper
You can make the filling up to 2 weeks ahead of time and freeze it (I normally make it the day before to cut labor time)
1 large Yam (the kind that is orange*) (enough to fill a 9x13 glass pyrex dish after being peeled and chopped into 1" cubes)
1 30 oz container Ricotta cheese
1 15 oz container Ricotta cheese
2 packages manicotti (28 total)
2 tsp sage
For Parmesan Cream Sauce:
flour (5 tbsp)
butter (5 tbsp)
2% or higher milk (3 3/4 c.)
garlic (2 cloves or more per taste, finely minced)
garlic salt (2 shakes)
italian seasoning (basil, oregano)
Parmesan cheese (grated, powdered or fresh) to taste
mozzarella (shredded) (1 to 2 cups)
To make the filling:
First, bake the yam in a sprayed 9x13 glass dish. Bake for one hour, covered with foil.
Once done, mash yam with a fork or potato masher (or in a mixer). Add the 30 oz container of Ricotta cheese and sage as you do this. If needed, add a little water to smooth. Mix should be smooth and pastel orange in color (and it should taste kinda sweet). If it is too dark, gradually add the smaller container of Ricotta cheese until it is the right color and consistency.
Fill the uncooked manicotti with the filling you just made. Make sure they are completely filled (this gets a little messy, but it is fun). Freeze any leftover filling for up to 2 months.
Put filled manicotti in rows in a greased 9x13. Make Parmesan Cream Sauce and follow directions below.
Parmesan Cream Sauce:
The base for this sauce is 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp butter, 3/4 c. milk. The above amounts are 5x the base (which is the amount for ONE 9x13, which can be filled with 14 manicotti. If you are making the full 28, you need to double the sauce, and use two 9x13 pans to cook in). If you have extra, you can freeze it, or just refrigerate to use with pasta later in the week.
Add butter and garlic to a saucepan and melt butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add all the flour, whisking to combine well. Add all the milk at once, stirring continuously so as not to form clumps with the flour. Add the Parmesan cheese and 1 to 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, and continue to stir. Once it begins to bubble (cheese should be melted at this point), let it do so for a minute or two, then remove from heat (you should be able to tell as you are stirring it that it is thickening up). Add the seasonings to taste.
Pour Parmesan Cream Sauce over the filled manicotti tubes in the pan. Add enough sauce to cover the manicotti (save any extra). Add approx. 1/2 or 1 c. warm water to the pan.
Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove foil halfway through cooking time.
Remove from oven (will be bubbling) and sprinkle with 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese. Let sit 5 minutes minimum to cool.
*I include this distinction because on the east coast, Yams are called sweet potatoes, but in the west, they are called Yams. Having messed up many a recipe that called for "sweet potatoes" but really meant Yams, I'm reduced to just referring to the color.