Three Cheese Manicotti
This recipe calls for purchased marinara sauce, but you can use about 1 3/4 cups homemade marinara or even leftover spaghetti sauce (should you conveniently happen to have some on hand). Whatever sauce is used, this pasta dish is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight supper, yet impressive enough to serve company.
1 (12-ounce) package manicotti pasta shells (or 14 manicotti shells)
2 (15-ounce) cartons ricotta cheese
4 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated - divided use
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese - divided use
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley leaves
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
- Grease a 10 x 15-inch sided baking pan, such as a jelly roll pan; set aside.
- Cook manicotti pasta shells according to package directions; drain and set aside.
- In large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, 3 cups mozzarella cheese, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, beaten eggs, parsley, salt and pepper, mixing well. Divide mixture into 14 balls*.
- Carefully split a manicotti shell open. Shape a cheese ball to fit the shell; close shell and lay seam-side down into prepared baking pan (do not crowd the manicotti, allow some space between); repeat procedure with remaining shells and cheese balls.
- Pour marinara sauce evenly over shells, spreading as needed to completely cover the shells with sauce so they won't dry out while baking. Top with remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered at 350°F (175°C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and cheese filling is set.
Makes 14 manicotti.
*An easy way to divide the ricotta cheese mixture evenly is to form a "log" using plastic wrap, then divide the log into 14 sections.
Variation: 3 Cheese & Spinach Manicotti - For filling, combine 1 (15-ounce) carton, 2 cups shredded mozzarella, 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 large egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and and 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach that has been thawed and squeezed dry; proceed as instructed above for filling manicotti; topping with the marinara sauce, then 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (1/14 of recipe): 362.3 calories; 39% calories from fat; 16.0g total fat; 82.5mg cholesterol; 847.3mg sodium; 370.9mg potassium; 28.8g carbohydrates; 0.8g fiber; 5.5g sugar; 28.0g net carbs; 25.0g protein.