Easy Spinach Manicotti
This is a super easy manicotti dish that is fast and simple. I sliced a piece out of the baking dish so that you could easily see the filling. The filling is a spinach, ricotta, and Italian cheese blend. The sauce is a delicious vegetable marinara sauce. This is a great hearty vegetarian dish. This dish is made in a casserole style, so it resembles a lasagna. For this dish, I do not precook the noodles, I just add extra sauce, and extra water in the sauce to cook the noodles. I know that there are no boil manicotti noodles, but they do not seem to exist in my part of the world. This recipe will produce a noodle that is al-dente. I find it very delicious. If you like very soft noodles, you should pre-cook the noodles before filling. If you want a more traditional style manicotti, you could precook the noodles and use about half the amount of marinara sauce. However, I love the extra sauce to go with the garlic bread!
Yield: Serves 4
Easy Spinach Manicotti
1 package Manicotti Shells
1 cup Italian blend cheese
For the Filling:
1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese (I used a blend that had the following cheeses: parmesan, mozzarella, romano, fontina, asiago, and provolone)
1 lb. Ricotta Cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning spice blend (I used one that had the following spices: oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, savory, and sage)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper
For the Marinara Sauce
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped finely, in food processor or shredded
1 medium green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning blend
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 large 2 lb. can of Italian tomatoes with basil flavor
1 small can tomato paste
Preheat sauce pan for marinara sauce. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle saucepan with olive oil. Add carrots and sprinkle with kosher salt. Saute for about 5 minutes. Then add onions and bell pepper and sprinkle with kosher salt. Continue to saute until soft. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes before adding canned tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, water and wine. Add more kosher salt to taste. Let this simmer while you prepare the noodles.
For the filling, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, cheese blend, eggs, seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well. Fill each noodle, and place in a greased 9x13 baking dish. If you have leftover filling, just place it in the spaces between the noodles, so nothing goes to waste. Then cover the noodles with the marinara sauce. The pan will be very full. Cover with foil.
Place in preheated oven and bake, covered for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Then remove cover, and spread the additional cup of cheese over noodles, and bake uncovered for another 20 minutes, or until cheese has melted.
I like my cheese slightly browned, so I turn on the broiler in the last few minutes of cooking to lightly brown the cheese.