The long four days ThanksGiving weekend went in spending quality time with hubby and kids. After two days at home, Saturday came as a socializing day. One of our friends had invited us over for their House-Warming party. It was great with a marvelous lunch at their place. After coming back home, I had my best friend and her family coming over to my place to spend the rest of the day with us.
The early evening started with a nice tea and crackers. All of us got so engrossed with our chit-chat that we hardly bothered to even look at the clock. It was almost dinner time. So, husbands wanted us to cook something really quick without investing much of our time and energy in the kitchen.
Luckily, I had these Manicotti pasta shells in my kitchen . So, we decided to eat Italian for our dinner. I quickly took out all the required ingredients from my refrigerator and started the preparation. My friend joined me in the kitchen. So, we both could make it together without much effort and time.
Manicotti is a dish of great comfort. It makes plenty, it’s filling. It’s a nice, no-fuss recipe that everyone seems to love. This is perfect as a main dish for a quick dinner, party, or potluck! So stop by your local Grocery store for the ingredients and within an hour you will have a delectable meal.
This time, I prepared it almost after 3 years. I had first tasted it in an Italian restaurant in Rome. Since then, it has always been my favorite and the best part is hubby and munchkin love it too !Pasta shells are a fun option on a lazy weekend night, and a clever way to sneak in those good-for-you veggies in case you have an eagle-eyed eater just like my munchkins. We eat a lot of spinach and I try to incorporate it into recipes for a healthy boost(Even if I have to make an extra effort hiding them in the recipe for my kids !)
Manicotti when paired with a savory filling highlighted by the tang of fresh ricotta, a crunch of onion, an aroma of strong garlic flavor, the richness of marinara sauce, and the brightness of spinach gets you a winning dish. It certainly makes a crowd pleasing vegetarian meal.
To top off this amazing meal and make our evening even more special, I prepared an Ultra-Moist and super spongy Dark Chocolate-Coffee pound cake (please follow my dark chocolate-coffee cake blog). The dessert added a special edge to our dinner and the best part is everyone just loved it !
Manicotti spinach-ricotta stuffed pasta shells
Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
1 onion chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
21/2 Cups Fresh Ricotta Cheese (or cottage cheese)
4 cups Spinach washed and finely chopped
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese for topping
14 Manicotti Shells
1 (32 oz.) jar marinara sauce
½ cup water
Salt & Pepper
For the Stuffing:
In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the garlic until fragrant.
Add the onions, sauté well.
Add spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as possible before adding it to the recipe.Season with salt and pepper. Take it out in a mixing bowl and add Ricotta cheese.
Mix the spinach,onion and ricotta nicely to prepare the stuffing.
For the Pasta:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- While the oven is pre-heating, cook the manicotti shells in salted, boiling water following the directions at the back of the package. Drain the shells and drop into a bowl of cold water.
- Drain the shells and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Take out the marinara sauce in another bowl ,add water and mix. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon a half cup of sauce into the bottom of a large baking pan and spread evenly.
- Use either a pastry bag without a tip, or a ziplock bag with one end cut off and fill with the stuffing mixture.Holding the shell, squeeze the filling into the shell. You can even use a spoon to fill the shells.
- Once filled, lay the shells into the pan side by side.
- Once all the shells have been filled, spoon the sauce evenly over the shells, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese if desired ( I didn’t add it to my recipe as my husband doesn’t like too much cheese).
- Bake the pasta covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 10 minutes to a bubbly goodness.
The result is a healthy and hearty pasta dish.
Kids loved it ! Friends Loved it ! You’ll love this too ! A pretty easy, throw-together meal to serve to your guests.
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