Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spinach & Cheese Manicotti

This is one of my favorite meals.... it hits my Italian sweet spot just perfectly! Although I have to make half of it without the spinach or my hubby won't eat it.

The other reason this meal is fantastic is because it makes a great freezer meal. When you are making this, double the recipe, and throw one pan in the freezer for a day you don't want to cook.

1 8oz. package manicotti
1 1/2 C ricotta cheese
2 C cottage cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 C Parmesan cheese
2 C shredded mozzarella, divided
1 C chopped spinach, fresh or thawed from frozen
1 T dried parsley
1 tsp salt
3-4 C spaghetti sauce

Do NOT cook manicotti if you are going to freeze. Follow remaining recipe omitting the noodles cooking. Fill dry noodles.

1- Cook manicotti al dente according to package- you don't want them too soggy. Remove from water and place back in the trays included with the packaging. This will help the noodles keep their shape.

2- Combine all remaining ingredients (use only 1 C mozzarella!) except the spaghetti sauce.
3- Grease 9x13 baking dish. Cover bottom of pan with 1-2 C spaghetti sauce.

4- Place cheese mixture in a plastic Ziploc bag. Cut a very small!!! opening in one corner of the bag. Squeeze filling into each noodle. Arrange manicotti on spaghetti sauce in pan.

5- Pour remaining sauce on top. If you are going to freeze: Cover with heavy foil, label and freeze. I like to write the cooking directions on a paper and tape on top for convenience!

6- Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Freezer cooking directions: Thaw overnight in fridge. Bake covered for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover, top with more mozzarella cheese and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Original recipe by Deanna Buxton