Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

Have you guys figured out that I really, really like meals I can make in advance? One of my favorite ways to spend a day, usually Sunday, is in the kitchen preparing a meal or two for the week ahead. With the weather getting cooler, of course we tend to gravitate to comfort foods… You know, the hearty, stick-your-ribs, not necessarily good for you stuff. This meal, while full of cheese, also packs a nice veggie punch with spinach and tomato sauce. You could easily add extra veggies or whatever you want. Another theme of mine- customizable meals. Another one of those meals that would be great to bring to a sick friend, a friend who’s just had a baby, etc.
Makes 2 casseroles
For the pasta and filling:
3 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 oz (~1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
To finish (per casserole):
3 cups marinara sauce, divided
1 oz (~ 1/2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Pour 1 inch of boiling water into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and slip the lasagna noodles into the water, spreading them out into as even a layer as possible. Obviously mine overlapped a bit! Let the noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating with the tip of a knife to prevent sticking.
Remove the noodles from the water and place in a single layer on clean dish towels or a baking rack.
In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, grated/shredded cheeses, spinach, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.



Spread about ¼ cup of the mixture over the bottom three-quarters of each noodle. Roll the noodles up around the filling.

At this point the filled noodles can be frozen for later use by placing seam-side down on a baking sheet and putting in the freezer until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer to Tupperware or ziplock bag until ready to use.

To finish and serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Spread 1 cup of sauce over the bottom of an 8X8 inch baking dish. It might be a tight squeeze but it’ll work! Arrange 6 of the filled manicotti over the sauce. Pour 1 cup of sauce over the top, cover with foil, and bake about 30-35 minutes. Remove the foil, top with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle with the cheese.

Continue to bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve! If baking from frozen, simply add a few extra minutes to the initial baking time.


Recipe from Annie’s Eats.


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