Thursday, October 2, 2008

Make Ahead Manicotti


I love baked pasta dishes, but I'm not a big fan of baked ziti. It's a little too plain for me - just pasta, sauce, and cheese. I love this baked manicotti dish, though, because it has a nice blend of cheese and spinach. (I would bet that most picky kids wouldn't mind the spinach in this dish, either!) Sometimes I like to throw some hot Italian sausage and crushed red peppers into the mix to kick it up a notch too.

It can be time consuming stuffing the manicotti, but you can have it done in no time if you use a ziploc bag with the corner cut out or pastry bag. I've used a fork in the past to to fill them too. If you use freshly ground black pepper in this recipe, another tip I learned (from Alton Brown) is that twelve turns of your average pepper grinder will yield 1/8 teaspoon.

It's great because as the name states, you can make this ahead of time and then just pop it into the oven to bake when you get home from work and have dinner on the table in less than an hour. If you don't have the time to refrigerate this overnight, no worries... I have baked it immediately after assembly as well and it was still just as good. If you try this, you have to serve it with some homemade roasted garlic bread.


I'm also submitting this to the weekly Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast.

Make Ahead Manicotti
from Allrecipes

1 pint ricotta cheese (I used part skim ricotta)
2 eggs
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar (I omit this)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (24 turns of the pepper grinder)
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, crumbled and browned (optional)
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional - if you're using the sausage)
12 manicotti shells
1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (I use 2 jars)

In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta cheese and eggs until blended. Stir in spinach, mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, sugar, salt and pepper (plus the sausage and crushed red pepper flakes if you are using them). Stuff mixture into uncooked pasta shells.

Spread 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a medium baking dish (I use a 13 x 9-inch). Arrange stuffed pasta shells in a single layer over the sauce. Pour the remainder of the sauce over the shells (if you don't cover your pasta with enough sauce, it won't cook/soften properly in the oven), cover dish, and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake covered for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese, and bake for another 15 minutes.

21 comments:

  1. Ooh I definitely want to try manicotti with sausage in it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love dishes which we can prepare earlier and keep.
    Loks so delicius.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Baked pasta is allways very conforting. I can never get tired of it! This one looks great with the cheese, spinach and sausage!

    ReplyDelete
  4. oh, the cheesiness of it all. being able to make it ahead is definitely an added bonus. bravo.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Looks wonderful, Jaime:) You are right about the kids part, my niece loves spinach and cheese raviolis. I know this would be a winner with her!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jaime, I have a printed recipe for Manicotti (got it from Epicurious) but haven't made it yet. I think that your photo has changed my mind! YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This looks so good- it looks like it has a lot of flavor, more so than an ordinary baked pasta dish! It's nice to have dinners that you can fix ahead of time but are still good!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Make ahead is always the way to go! Looks great.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am craving this right now. Especially with that garlic bread! Beautiful photos, too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. manicotti is soo good! i love spinich in baked pasta or any kind of lasagna!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That dish looks so delicious! I love recipes that can be made in advance like that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. hmmmm. that looks so delicious

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yum, this looks so tasty. I love manicotti!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am totally drooling over this recipe. I will make this next time. Thanks for sharing and your pics are awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I like baked pasta as well though I have not had the chance to try making manicotti yet. The manicotti looks tasty! I like that you can make it ahead of time.

    ReplyDelete
  16. It does look amazing. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Looks delicious , I am drooling over your manicotti !!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. this looks fabulous - like you i sneak spinach into all sorts of dishes!

    ReplyDelete