My mom was really smart. She would absolutely scoff at me for saying so, but she was a smart and clever lady. She was especially clever at preoccupying two scamps that went by the names Grant and Holly while she was trying to get dinner on the table. One of her techniques was having us help her make dinner. I remember very clearly working really hard to scoop up the cheese filling and shove it into the manicotti shells without tearing the pasta. As a kid, it was pretty difficult. As an adult….it proved to be a challenge of the ages. (but only after a glass of Chianti….a VERY large glass).
Sometimes my mom surprised me with the simple origins of these seemingly involved recipes. The Manicotti recipe came off the back of the Golden Grains Manicotti box. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the box at the store. I had to settle for Barilla brand Manicotti, but couldn’t bring myself to use the recipe on the box. I had to find something that matched the memory I held so dear. The genius of this recipe is that it is kind of like enchiladas for Italian food. You just shove whatever sounds good to you in the Manicotti shell, cover it with cheese and sauce, bake it, and you are done! You could add chopped spinach, cooked ground beef, turkey, lamb or pork, olives….whatever sounds delicious. You could also use pesto or white sauce instead. It’s crazy versatile and super easy to make.
Prepare the pasta as it states on the package. Rinse with cold water (to stop the cooking) and lay in a single layer on some paper towels.
In one bowl mix the following ingredients: Ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg. (I used some freshly grated nutmeg and it was off the charts delicious). Before you begin spooning the cheese mixture into your manicotti shells, pour 1 cup of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. This not only makes a saucy bed for your pasta, but it keeps it from sticking to the bottom of your dish like glue.
**Sneaky Trick: Use a fork instead of a spoon when putting the cheese in the manicotti. It is easier to get the cheese off of the fork while shoving it into the pasta, than it is to get it out of the curve of the spoon.
I couldn’t fit all of my manicotti in my dish. Maybe I was supposed to smash more in there, or maybe it was because the extra ones left over were there for practice and went directly into the manicotti graveyard…I’m not sure, but I was still able to fit 10 in my dish. Feel free to pull out another small oven-ready dish and place the last few in there. Nothing is stopping you. Nothing. Not even this look of disbelief on my face.
Cover the pasta in the rest of the sauce and cheeses.
Put in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly and it looks like this….
You can serve this with a fresh green salad and crispy garlicky bread or you can simply stand in the kitchen and eat it with a fork directly from the dish. I’m not here to judge you. Just eat it, because it is cheesy goodness at its best.
- 1 (8 oz.) package manicotti, uncooked
- 1 (15 oz.) container ricotta cheese
- 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups (up to 1 jar) spaghetti sauce
- Prepare pasta as directed on package; drain. Rinse with cold water, drain and arrange in single layer to fill.
- Meanwhile, mix ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese the egg, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Spoon mixture into manicotti shells, using at least 1/3 cup per shell. Pour 1 cup spaghetti sauce in bottom of baking pan and place filled manicotti shells in a single layer on top of sauce.
- Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over manicotti shells.
- Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until hot.