As I promised yesterday, here is the freezer-friendly spinach manicotti recipe.
A couple tricks I’ve learned from making any dish that requires you to stuff the pasta:
- I add a little oil to the cooking water. I know this is normally a no-no because I’ve heard it prevents the sauce from adhering to the pasta. But I always had a problem with my cooked shells sticking together after I drained and cooled them. Adding a little oil prevents this.
- I slightly undercook my pasta by about two minutes less than the shortest recommended cooking time. This makes the pasta easier to handle, prevents tearing as you’re trying to add the filling, and prevents the pasta from getting mushy when you finish baking the finished dish in the oven.
- Filling manicotti shells is a pain in the butt. If you do a lot of cake or cookie decorating, you may have piping bags on hand. These work great! However, if you don’t you can do like I do and scoop your filling into a plastic storage bag, snip a corner off, and voila! You have a homemade piping bag. Again, I like the Ziploc vacuum seal bags for this because they are more heavy duty and won’t tear at the seams.
I prefer homemade spaghetti sauce over store bought. I don’t care what Ragu or Prego say on TV, they don’t taste like homemade. However, for a dish like this where you’ve got a lot of other things going on and the sauce is not necessarily the star of the show, I will use store bought and doctor it up with some of my own ingredients. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll notice a few chunks of meat. I added that for the Carnivore Husband so he wouldn’t complain about being served spinach manicotti. I always go for the big 26-ounce cans of sauce on the bottom shelf that are a couple dollars cheaper than the jars positioned at eye-level (grocery stores are sneaky like that).
For your convenience, I’ve added freezing instructions to the notes section of the recipe.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 14 uncooked manicotti shells
- 32 ounces ricotta cheese (part-skim or regular)
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup chopped, cooked spinach (fresh or frozen), drained
- 4 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
- 1 pound soft, buffalo-style mozzarella cheese, sliced
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add olive oil. Carefully add manicotti shells. Cook shells for two minutes less than the shortest cooking time. Drain and allow to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In the meantime, combine ricotta cheese and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer until cheeses are combined and there are no large lumps of cream cheese. Add eggs and beat until well-incorporated. Stir in spinach and salt.
- Spread half of the spaghetti sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13 x 2-inch casserole dish (or two 8 x 8 x 2-inch dishes). Fill each manicotti shell with the ricotta cheese mixture. Lay filled shells in a single layer on the bottom of the pan.
- Spread remaining spaghetti sauce over the shells. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and begins to brown.