Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cheese Filled Manicotti

Cheese filled manicotti
Since I am working again, making dinner has become a bit more challenging. It has also become more important- it is our family time. So dinner has to tasty (and quick). Cheese stuffed manicotti are one of those meals. My family loves these. They can be made the night before and then baked in the oven (the first person home can throw them in the oven). They can also be made ahead (don't bake) and frozen. Just defrost and bake.
The noodles need to cool before you fill them so I either cook the manicotti the night before or have my husband cook them during the day. I use a variety of homemade sauces for these. My daughter's favorite is Sweet Tomato Sauce, my favorite is Vodka Pasta Sauce, but Roasted Balsamic Tomato Sauce is also good. In a pinch you can use a jar of pasta sauce.

1 Package (8 oz) of Manicotti
1 3/4 Cups (15 oz) of Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups (8 oz) of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/4 Cup of Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Parsley, Chopped
Salt and Pepper, To Taste
3 Cups (28 oz) of Pasta Sauce

Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and lay pasta flat on foil to cool.
Cooling manicotti
Preheat oven to 350F/176C/Gas Mark 4. In a large boil combine all of the ingredients except the pasta sauce.
The fresh parsley really adds to the dish
Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 13x9 inch (30x20 cm) baking dish.
A thin layer of pasta sauce
Carefully spoon the cheese mixture into the manicotti and place in a single layer in the baking dish.
Filling the manicotti; don't overfill or you will run out of cheese
Cover with the remaining pasta sauce.
Ready for the oven
Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. The manicotti should be hot and the pasta sauce bubbly. Serve.

The bottom line: Will I make these again. Yes. I love these. Sometimes I fill them with spinach and cheeses. I also have made meat filled manicotti. The cheese filled are my favorite.

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