Monday, January 2, 2012

Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

I'm back and recovered!  What a fun time that was... NOT!  My belly button is still sore.  
I'm telling you this, things are not meant to come out of your belly button!  'Nuff said.
I am just thrilled to be back in the kitchen again.  I don't know why it wasn't as much fun when the kids were growing up.  Well, maybe I do.  They are a lot less picky at their adult ages than when they were kids.
For dinner I made up some Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti along with some 90 minute bread. Both are very easy to make and allowed for me to cook between loads of laundry.  I saw a recipe for the Spinach and Ricotta shells but I didn't want to stuff a bunch of shells; The Manicotti was easier. To make it a lot more easy, one could easily use it as the filling for a meatless lasagna. I combined a couple different recipes and made my own Marina sauce.

Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1  28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne

2  15-ounce containers ricotta
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1/3 cup chopped Parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1 egg
1 shallot, minced
Salt and Black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 box Manicotti (mine yielded 14 shells)
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1 cup grated Mozzarella

In saucepan, cook onion in olive oil until slightly translucent; add garlic
 and continue cooking 1 minute more.
Deglaze pan with whitewine.  Add crushed tomatoes and remaining
sauce ingredients.   Let cook for about twenty minutes.

Cook Manicotti according to box directions.

To make filling;  chop spinach.  I like to wilt my spinach in a saute pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix well.
  Add spinach and mix thoroughly.
Fill a piping bag with ricotta filling and pipe into  cooked manicotti. I find that
inserting the piping bag half way and filling as I am pulling out works best.
I then turn it around and fill the other half using the same method.
In a 9-inch x 13-inch pan, add a scoop or two of the marinara sauce to the bottom of the pan.
Top with filled manicotti.  Add remaining marinara sauce to the top of the manicotti and top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees F., for twenty minutes.  Let set five minutes and then serve.

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