Italian is always a big hit in our household. Who doesn’t love a good hearty pasta meal? This manicotti is a delicious vegetarian choice, but it can also be quickly adapted to suit any meat lover…just by adding italian sausage to the ingredients list. I made this recipe this past weekend along with a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs for my husband. My teenagers invited several friends over for dinner and low and behold the manicotti disappeared! Spinach stuffing and all… I promise that even picky eaters will enjoy this dish!
Vegetarian Spinach & Cheese Manicotti
SPINACH & CHEESE MANICOTTI INGREDIENTS:
• 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
• ¼ cup of onion, finely chopped
• 2 teaspoons of fresh garlic, chopped
• 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
• 2 cups shredded mozzarella
• 4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature, softened
• ½ cup of grated pecorino ramono cheese or parmesan cheese
• 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
• Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 1-10 ounce package of frozen chopped spinach (cook according to package directions, squeeze dry by hand to remove excess water and moisture.)
• 10 manicotti shells, cooked and drained
• 1 to 2 jars of your favorite Marinara Sauce (Depends on how saucy you like your shells)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SPINACH & CHEESE MANICOTTI:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil 13 X 9 –inch baking dish.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Sauté onion for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes longer. Set aside to cool.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, 1-½ cups of mozzarella, cream cheese, ¼ cup of pecorino cheese, Italian seasoning, kosher salt & pepper. Mix well.
4. Add onion and spinach to the mixture. Mix well to combine all ingredients.
5. Using a teaspoon, carefully spoon mixture into manicotti shells.
6. Pour half of the marinara sauce into the baking dish. (Use just enough to generously cover the bottom of the dish, save the remaining for covering the shells.)
7. Arrange shells over sauce. (You can cover and refrigerate at this point until ready to cook.)
8. Top with remaining sauce. Do not cover the shells completely with sauce.
9. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of pecorino cheese.
10. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.
11. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
12. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.