Friday, June 2, 2017
SPINACH AND CHEESE STUFFED MANICOTTI
SPINACH AND CHEESE STUFFED MANICOTTI 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed completely & squeezed dry 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese 15 ounces ricotta cheese 4 ounces cream cheese 1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 box (12 to 14 shells) manicotti noodles 3 to 4 cups marinara sauce (about 2 jars- or use homemade) 1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for topping Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix the spinach, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended. Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9x13-inch pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom. Place the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner. Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides. Alternately, you can stuff the uncooked noodles with a small spoon or fork. Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan. Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling. You should be able to fill 12 to 14 shells- if you run out of room in your pan, use a separate smaller pan to accommodate the extra. Cover the pasta completely with marinara sauce, using about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Romano/Parmesan on top. At this point, you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you're ready to bake, or you can cover with foil and place it in the oven immediately. Bake, covered with foil, 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. TIPS: It's perfectly okay to use low fat ricotta and low fat cream cheese. If you don't wish to use the spinach, it's ok to leave it out and just turn this into a cheese-stuffed manicotti. If you don't wish to use the plastic bag method of squeezing the filling into the shells, you can use a very small spoon or fork to stuff the filling-- it will just take a bit longer and might be a little messy.