Let’s talk about the five main food groups. Carbs, cheese, sauce, wine and dessert. Pair this delicious manicotti with a big glass of wine and you’ve got 4 out of the 5 covered! My husband always jokes that the only thing I ever want to eat is bread, sauce and cheese. And he’s not wrong. Pizza is my one true love and melted brie with fig jam and sliced French baguette is a close second. I mean I do eat plenty of fruits and veggies and I love a nice big salad loaded with all kinds of toppings, but if I’m going to indulge, I’m having some kinda of carb topped with lots of sauce and lots of cheese. And this is my indulgence for the week.
I can guarantee this will quickly become one of your family’s favorite meals. My toddler gobbled this stuff up. Like I think she ate two whole manicotti by herself. With a fork ya’ll. She’s getting so big.
Have you tried baking uncooked noodles in sauce before? I remember the first time I ever heard of such a thing. It was a few years ago now. I was diving head first into a pan of my mother-in-law’s lasagna and when I came up for air she told me she did not boil the noodles before she baked the lasagna. Whaaaaa?????? I could NOT believe it. It was definitely an “aha” moment for me and I’ve never boiled a lasagna noodle since.
I find that the lasagna (and manicotti in this case) holds together better when the noodles are not boiled before baking. I’m sure it has something to do with the starches being released during the cooking process or something. But I’m not into all that science stuff. That’s what I’m not much of a baker. Too much science and exact measurements.
Spinach Manicotti with Sausage and Creamy Tomato Sauce
- 5 cups of my Secret Family Recipe Spaghetti Sauce (or your favorite brand)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Parmesan, divided
- 1 (16 oz.) box of uncooked manicotti noodles
- 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1 (16 oz.) container park skim ricotta cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley + more for garnish
- 2 egg yolks
- Kosher salt
- fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl combine chopped spinach, ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 2 cups mozzarella, parsley, egg yolks, a large pinch of pepper and a couple large pinches of salt. Transfer to a piping bag (a gallon Ziploc baggy works well too).
Spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce evenly in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Cut the tip off your piping bag about the width of the mancotti noodles. You’ll want a large opening so you can easily pipe the filling into the noodles. No need to cook them before you bake. They will do their magic in the oven and hold together much better. Pipe the filling into one end of the noodle, then flip the noodle and fill the other side. This technique will ensure that the entire inside of the noodle is filled. I was able to fill all 14 noodles.
Place filled manicotti in the baking dish so they are touching but not too smooshed together as they will expand during the cooking process. Pour remaining sauce in an even layer on top of the noodles. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over top of the noodles and bake for another 5 minutes uncovered. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and enjoy!