Giada's Crab and Ricotta Manicotti

Giada’s Crab and Ricotta Manicotti
(Serves 6)
Reprinted from Everyday Pasta with permission from Giada De Laurentiis and Clarkson Potter.

This dish is very elegant, and the combination of crab and creamy béchamel sauce is unusual and delicious. It’s a showstopper.

1 box manicotti pasta (about 12 shells) or an (8-ounce) box of cannelloni
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
 Butter for the pan
 Bechamel sauce

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta, 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, the egg yolk, basil, crab, salt and pepper.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

4. Fill the manicotti with the crab mixture and place in the prepared baking dish. Top the filled manicotti with the béchamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and the top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Bechamel sauce:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups warm whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes.

2. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth and creamy, about 10 minutes (do not allow the béchamel sauce to boil).

3. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.)

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