Here is a recipe by request! I had a viewer email me a week or so ago and asked me if I had a manicotti recipe. I love manicotti, so easy and delicious and when you make it you can make a bunch with very little effort! So I promised I would put it on the list. The weather is starting to get slightly cooler. The humidity is starting to subside and summer is starting to thankfully take a hike on outta here! So it is a good time to get these delicious pasta bakes underway.
Baked manicotti is a great dish to make in bulk. I went ahead and prepped enough for two pans. One for dinner that night and one for the freezer. I did not bake the one for the freezer. In a few weeks when we are busy and I don't have time to cook, that is going to come in handy! You can divide this up any way you like. I made two pans, but you could easily make four, six or eight. You can even get the smaller foil pans and put one serving each if you are a single or if you are the only one in the house to enjoy this delicious cheesy pasta meal.
I used my homemade pantry shelf marinara to make this dish but you can easily use your favorite jarred or home canned sauce. You use what fits your life. No worries there. I have used foil pans, you can use what you like. These make life easy for me and make clean up a breeze. Also note that one pan feeds my family of four, dinner twice. So technically, what I prepped is good for four meals. Add bread and a salad and you are good to go.
My filling is super simple. Good quality ricotta cheese, NO STORE BRANDS PLEASE! Use the whole milk version because it will hold together better and bleed a lot less water. I prefer the Galiano brand or Polly O brand. These two are super thick and need no draining. They are pure cheese with no added fillers or gums or thickeners. They are worth the extra money for a great final result. I added shredded mozzarella, not fresh, because it is too soft for this application. I also added grated Parmiggiano Reggiano and Peccorino Romano cheeses along with some salt and a bunch of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley. You can also add in a bag of fresh baby spinach as well. Your choice. Don't forget the eggs because that is what holds this all together in the end!
Now that the filling is made we move on to the pasta tubes. Manicotti is the best because you don't have to pre cook the pasta! Just stuff those tubes and put them in the pan and bake. I put my filling in a pastry bag. If you don't have one, no worries. Just use a gallon zipper top bag and cut one of the corners off and use that like a pastry bag to fill your manicotti. You can choose to fill the pasta tubes from both ends like I did or you can just stuff from one end until it is filled. Either way it will be fine.
I put 2 cups of marinara in the bottom of my pan and then laid the filled manicotti on top. I used one box of manicotti or 14 pasta tubes per pan. Then I used about 4 cups of marinara to cover the pasta. It is important that the manicotti be completely covered because the moisture from the sauce is what is going to cook and soften the pasta.
I had a bit of filling leftover after stuffing all of my manicotti so I divided it between the two pans because I figure there can never be too much cheese! I also topped each pan with more mozzarella and Parmesan. Then I covered everything with sauce. Covered the pans with a layer of parchment first then with foil and baked them for about an hour.
This is such an easy and delicious meal to make for any time and squirrel one away for later! I hope you give this baked cheese manicotti a try and I hope you love it!
You can get the recipe on my website: http://bit.ly/2czpd0s
You can see how I made this in my YouTube video here:
Baked Cheese Manicotti
1 box manicotti pasta shells
1, 32 ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded, mozzarella cheese, divided
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
6 cups marinara sauce
Step by Step Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine ricotta, 1 ½ cups of Mozzarella and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add eggs, salt and parsley. Stir well to combine.
Place cheese mixture in a pastry bag or in a zip top bag with one corner snipped off.
Place 2 cups of marinara in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
Fill the uncooked manicotti shells by squeezing the filling into the shell from either one or both ends. Place the filled shells into the baking dish with the sauce.
When you have finished filling the shells you may have extra cheese filling leftover. Just spoon that around the manicotti evenly.
Spoon over 4 cups of marinara sauce, making sure to cover all the pasta and cheese. You should not see any exposed pasta.
Top the past with the remaining Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, evenly over the top.
Cover with a layer of parchment paper and then with a layer of aluminum foil sealing tightly.
Place casserole dish on a baking sheet for stability and to prevent spill over in your oven.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and remove the foil and parchment. Return to oven for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.
Remove from oven and allow manicotti to rest for 10 minutes before serving.