...one of my boyfriends favorite meals is manicotti. I don't make it for him very often, because it's such a messy and fussy thing to make. But it's winter. And it sounded really REALLY good. A nice warm Italian meal on a really cold day is so good. The secret ingredient here is the nutmeg, which adds just enough balance to the bold tomato and garlic flavors in this dish. I hope you guys like it as much as we did!
Spinach Manicotti1 package of manicotti noodles
1 LG package of fresh spinach (about 6 cups)
2 C ricotta cheese (part skim)
1/3 C shredded parmesan cheese
1 jar of Newman's Own marinara sauce
garlic, oregano, nutmeg, salt, pepper, olive oil, cooking spray, and basil
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Dig out a large casserole dish. Line the dish with your uncooked noodles in a single even layer to see how many fit in your pan (this is how many you will cook). Fill a large pot with water, add olive oil and salt and bring to a boil. Cook noodles to al dente (you don't want to cook them all the way because they will become hard to stuff and they will fall apart). While your noodles are boiling, spray your casserole dish with cooking spray and sprinkle the pan with a light layer of oregano. Meanwhile, pull out a large saute pan. Wash and drain your spinach. Fill your pan with as many spinach leaves as possible (they will reduce down while cooking, making more room for fresh leaves, which you can just throw on top of the wilted ones, stirring as they cook) and cook them on medium heat. When the leaves are cooked, add your garlic ( I like to use the kind you can find minced in a can next to the fresh garlic in the produce section in the grocery store...just about half a tablespoon full), and reduce the liquid out of the leaves, draining if necessary. Then take the spinach off the heat, and add your ricotta and parmesan cheeses, salt and pepper, egg, basil, and a light sprinkle of nutmeg. Mix the spinach/cheese mixture and to make things easier for stuffing.....put it in a pastry bag with no tip, or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off to pipe your cheese mixture into your noodles. Place your noodles in your greased casserole dish, and start piping a little cheese mixture into each noodle. (Twist the end of your pastry bag to prevent mix from escaping out the top. This is a messy meal to make!) Wash the cheese off of your hands, and then pour your maranara sauce over the top of your noodles, and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with some nice warm french bread, and this makes a fine filling and comforting winter meal.