This Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti is a favorite family recipe. Watch the video showing you how to make manicotti, then scroll to the bottom of this post and print out the recipe so you can make it at home.
What is Manicotti?
Manicotti is a pasta noodle shaped like a tube. It’s about 4-inches long, and 1-inch in diameter. Usually it’s boiled until al dente, then cooled, filled with some kind of cheese filling, covered with sauce and baked. In this recipe, you don’t have to bake the noodles before filling them. They’ll cook in the sauce when you bake the manicotti in the oven.
Manicotti is a dish of great comfort. It makes plenty, it’s filling, it’s completely family-friendly, and the leftovers are even better than the freshly made batch. We make this when we have a handful of friends or family around. It’s a nice, no-fuss recipe that everyone seems to love. Make it ahead, keep it in the fridge and toss it in the oven when everybody is ready to eat.
How do you make Manicotti:
You’ll need the following ingredients: ricotta, Parmesan, mozarella and cream cheeses. You’ll also need eggs, frozen spinach, manicotti noodles and marinara sauce.
The filling is very simple to make. Just mix it all up in a bowl until it’s well-blended. If you (or your kids) don’t like spinach, you can always leave it out… though I’ve found that you don’t really detect it all that much with all of the other wonderful things and sauce in the recipe.
You might consider it a good way to “sneak” some good stuff into dinner.
A layer of sauce goes into the bottom of a 13×9-inch pan.
The easiest way to stuff manicotti shells is the put the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner.
Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides.
Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan.
Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling.
Cover with a generous layer of marinara sauce.
Sprinkle cheese on top. At this point, you can cover with foil, refrigerate and then bake when you’re ready. It’s ok to leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
Cover and bake for about an hour.
Pop open a bottle of red wine and eat! This Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti recipe will feed 6 or 7 hungry people- 2 stuffed shells each is plenty when served with salad and garlic bread. And lighter eaters will be plenty full with just one shell.
Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Manicotti
- 15 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
- 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 box (12 to 14 shells) manicotti noodles
- 4 cups marinara sauce (jarred or homemade)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix the cheeses, spinach, eggs, salt and pepper. Stir together until well blended.
- Place about 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce in a 9x13-inch pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom.
- Place the mixed filling into a plastic bag. You can use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner, gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner. Hold an uncooked manicotti shell in your hand and squeeze the filling inside the shell. Let it overflow on both sides. Alternately, you can stuff the uncooked noodles with a small spoon or fork. Place the filled shell into the sauce-lined pan. Repeat with remaining manicotti and fill the pan with the stuffed shells, until you run out of shells and filling. You should be able to fill 12 to 14 shells- if you run out of room in your pan, use a separate smaller pan to accommodate the extra.
- Cover the pasta completely with marinara sauce, using about 2 1/2 cups of sauce. Sprinkle 1/2 cup Parmesan on top. At this point, you can cover with foil and refrigerate until you're ready to bake, or you can cover with foil and place it in the oven immediately.
- Bake, covered with foil, 50 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
- It's perfectly okay to use low fat ricotta and low fat cream cheese.
- If you don't wish to use the spinach, it's ok to leave it out and just turn this into a cheese-stuffed manicotti.
- If you don't wish to use the plastic bag method of squeezing the filling into the shells, you can use a very small spoon or fork to stuff the filling-- it will just take a bit longer and might be a little messy.