It’s Nonna’s Birthday. There’s not a lot you can get a 91 year old for her birthday. It’s not like she’s wearing out things at this stage of her life – and there’s really not a lot of things she needs. So how do you celebrate a birthday? With a special dinner!

The criterion for a Nonna Dinner is pretty simple – Italian and soft. I figured homemade manicotti would met both – and it did.

I made everything last night so all I had to do was sauce it and get it into the oven when I got home.

I followed Lidia’s recipe for crespelle – the manicotti wrappers.



  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Crack the eggs over the flour and whisk them in. Add salt and whisk in water until smooth.

Heat your pan until hot and brush with melted butter.

Pour 1/4 cup batter into the pan and swirl to completely coat. Cook until pale golden and crespelle is dry on top.

Place on plate and continue until all the batter has been used.

The filling I just winged…

  • 1 16 oz carton whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 oz cubed mozzarella
  • 1 cup Pepato cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • S&P

Mix all ingredients together.

Place crespelle on counter, place about 1/2 cup filling. Roll and place seam-side down in baking dish.

Cover with a simple marinara sauce, cover dish, and bake about 30 minutes at 375°F. Uncover, top with additional cheese, and bake an additional 15 or so minutes.

Nonna loved it. She ate every bite and almost licked her plate.

They really did come out good – I was a bit nervous because the crespelle seemed thicker than the last time I made them, but they absorbed the sauce and were hearty without being heavy. Definitely good.

Victor made cheesy garlic bread to go along with it and Nonna immediately had a piece of Lemon Coconut Cake.

It was a good birthday!