Manicotti

 All of the sudden last weekend I had the “oh no winter is coming to an end soon and I haven’t made a hugely indulgent comfort food dish yet” thought! Comfort food and large cozy sweaters go hand in hand, right? Pretty soon the large cozy sweaters will be in the back of the closet waiting for next winter, and we won’t want to turn the oven on because it’s too hot and humid outside. 😛

This dish was that best thing I have made in a while. There are THREE kinds of cheeses, need I say more?! Enjoy 🙂

Manicotti

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  •  1 medium onion, diced
  •  1/2 to 1 pound ground beef
  • 4 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano,
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  •  14 (8oz. package) manicotti
  •  1 (16 oz.) container whole milk ricotta
  •  3 cups  mozzarella, freshly shredded
  •  1 cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
  •  6 oz. frozen spinach, drained of excess water
  •  4 garlic cloves, minced
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  •  2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add ground beef and diced onion and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain the excess fat, if there is any. Add 3 cups of the marinara sauce, the spices and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add manicotti noodles and cook until tender but firm (about 5 or 6 minutes). Brush a baking sheet with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Remove manicotti from the pot with a slotted spoon and place on the baking sheet to cool.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl combine the ricotta, 1 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, 1/2 cup of the parmesan, spinach, minced garlic and pepper to taste.
  4. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 baking dish. Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Fill the manicotti with the cheese filling. Note: I used a butter knife and it wasn’t too difficult to slide the filling in to the pasta, it just took a little patience. Place the filled manicotti in one layer in the baking dish. Top with the beef and marinara sauce mixture and the remaining mozzarella and parmesan.
  6. Dot the top with the small pieces of butter. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until nice and bubbly. Allow it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 7-8 large servings.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

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