A robust Italian dinner feels just about right for Christmas. It's rich and comforting and -- particularly in the case of our lobster manicotti -- decadent without being fussy.
We start our manicotti with a lobster and ricotta cheese filling, but if lobster is too much trouble (or not in the budget) just substitute cooked and peeled shrimp. You also could make this dish vegetarian by skipping the seafood entirely and using well-drained chopped and cooked spinach. Whatever you use, a zippy -- but not scorching -- fra diavolo sauce ties everything together wonderfully.
And to help keep your holiday running smoothly, this dish can be prepared the night before and refrigerated until ready to bake.
LOBSTER MANICOTTI FRA DIAVOLO
Start to finish: 1 hour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
28-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
7 ounces cooked lobster meat, drained, patted dry and roughly chopped (about 1 mounded cup)
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus extra for garnish
8-ounce box wide lasagna noodle sheets (10 sheets)
Grated Romano cheese (optional)
In a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook until tender and beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer half of the onions to a medium bowl. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic to the saucepan and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Add the lobster, ricotta and basil to the bowl of onion. Stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-9-inch baking dish.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions, then drain well. Working quickly and carefully with one sheet of pasta at a time, lay a pasta sheet flat in front of you. Spoon1/4 cup of the lobster-ricotta filling across the bottom edge of the pasta sheet. Roll the pasta away from you, forming a tube around the filling. Lay the rolled and filled pasta (manicotti) on the sauce in the baking dish.
Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets, filling and lining the manicotti in a row in the prepared pan. Spoon the remaining sauce over the tops of the manicotti. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and browning around the edges. Serve topped with basil and grated romano, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 410 calories; 120 calories from fat (29 percent of total calories); 13 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 85 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 22 g protein; 730 mg sodium.