I must admit, I make a pretty mean Manicotti. I’d forgotten how good it is until I made some on the spur-of-the-moment this week. My Manicotti is probably not very authentic, seeing as I have no genuine Italian reference point at all. I don’t think it helps much that the recipe here got it’s start from the back of a box of Manicotti noodles either! Maybe I should just call this dish Cheesey Spinach Pasta Rolls and ditch the whole faux Italian thing!
The instructions below will guide you in putting together a whole pan of Manicotti, but the recipe part is just for the creamy cheesey gooey yummy manicotti filling. You’ll need about 3 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce to finish the dish (I make a hearty meat, mushroom, onion, red wine spaghetti sauce to serve with this dish, the recipe is posted on this site) along with one box of manicotti noodles (those really big. long pasta tubes). I’ve used the filling below to stuff large shell pasta, too, so you can use those if you can’t find the manicotti noodles.
BTW, leftovers microwave wonderfully well. My my son has already zapped a few several times today. I hope he has left me some, leftover Manicotti is such a treat.
Cheesey Spinach Manicotti
Approx 3 cups prepared spaghetti sauce, warmed
1 8 0z. box manicotti noodles, cooked according to package direction, rinsed and drained
For the filling:
- 10 oz. box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, and squeezed dry
- 16 oz. carton ricotta
- 8 oz marscapone
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 1 oz. packages of string cheese, cubed OR 6 oz mozzarella cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- additional grated cheese, Parmesan and/or mozzarella, for sprinkling on top of baked casserole.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Squeeze the spinach really, really dry and place in a large bowl.
- Stir in the cheeses: ricotta (I didn’t used to like ricotta, so I have substituted cottage cheese for the ricotta before), marscapone, grated Parmesan, and cubed string cheese or part-skim mozzarella. Stir well.
- Lightly beat the eggs and add to the spinach-cheese mixture.
- Stir in the nutmeg.
- Fill cooked manicotti with the filling. The best way to do this is to put all the filling in a large Ziploc bag. Push the filling to one corner of the bag, then cut the corner off the bag–to make a sort of pastry bag-and squirt the filling into the manicotti. If this method doesn’t work for you, just use several long handled spoons (ice tea spoons work well) to fill the tubes. Some of the manicotti will have split. Try not to use the split ones, but if you have to just roll them tight and lay them seam side down in the pan. I think there are two more noodles than will comfortably fit into a 9×13 pan in each manicotti package, so you are OK discarding two tubes.
- Place 1 cup of the warm spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the 9×13 pan.
- Arrange the stuffed manicotti on top of the spaghetti sauce.
- Cover the arranged manicotti in the pan with the remaining 2 cups sauce–you might need a little more or a little less sauce. If you have leftover sauce, you can always serve it, warmed, on the side. Some people appreciate more sauce.
- Cover the baking dish with foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Remove foil, sprinkle any remaining cheese over top of the casserole, increase heat to 425 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese has melted and nicely browned.
- Remove casserole from oven and let sit for approx. 10 minutes before serving.