The boys have been asking me to make this for a while, so last night was the night. They lapped it up and asked for more…I love dinners like that. Another thing I love about this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time, stick it in the frig and then pop it in the oven when you are ready to bake it.
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 (1 jar + a little more)
1/2 cup shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix spinach, cheeses, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended.
Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9×13-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. (Or you can use a spoon. Spoon it in with the spoon part of the spoon and stuff it in there with the handle…very messy…but it worked.) 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 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.
What did the family think? Yum, yum and more yum.