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Spinach Cheese Manicotti

Magnificent Spinach Cheese Manicotti: A Savory Italian Delight

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Prepare to indulge in the ultimate Italian comfort food with this Spinach Cheese Manicotti recipe. Stuffed with a creamy mixture of ricotta cheese, savory spinach, and gooey mozzarella, these manicotti shells are smothered in rich spaghetti sauce and baked to perfection. Whether you’re hosting a family dinner or craving a hearty meal, this dish is sure to satisfy your cravings and impress your guests. Let’s dive into the recipe and uncover the secrets to its irresistible flavor.

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Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (8 ounce) package manicotti shells

Instructions

Preparing the Filling

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, chopped spinach, minced onion, egg, minced parsley, pepper, garlic powder, 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Mix until well combined.

Stuffing the Manicotti Shells

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Spoon the filling into a large resealable plastic bag or piping bag. Snip off one corner of the bag.
  3. Carefully pipe the filling into the uncooked manicotti shells, filling each shell until full.

Assembling the Manicotti

  1. Spread a thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. Arrange the stuffed manicotti shells in a single layer in the baking dish.
  3. Pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the manicotti shells, covering them completely.
  4. Pour the water around the edges of the baking dish.

Baking the Manicotti

  1. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the shells are tender.

Adding the Cheese

  1. Remove the foil and sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the manicotti.
  2. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serving

  1. Let the manicotti cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional minced parsley if desired.

Cook Notes and Variations

  • Meat Lover’s Twist: Add cooked ground beef or Italian sausage to the ricotta mixture for a heartier filling.
  • Veggie Delight: Mix in diced bell peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini to the ricotta mixture for added flavor and texture.
  • Fresh Herbs: Substitute dried parsley with chopped fresh basil or oregano for a burst of freshness.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions

Keto Version

  • Substitute the manicotti shells with zucchini noodles or thinly sliced eggplant for a low-carb option.
  • Use full-fat ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese for a keto-friendly filling.
  • Choose a low-carb spaghetti sauce or make your own using fresh tomatoes and herbs.

Low-Carb Version

  • Replace the manicotti shells with shirataki noodles or cauliflower gnocchi for a lower-carb alternative.
  • Opt for a reduced-fat ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese to lower the fat content.
  • Choose a low-sugar spaghetti sauce or make your own using tomato puree and spices.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use fresh spinach instead of frozen? A: Yes, you can use fresh spinach in place of frozen. Simply blanch the spinach leaves, then chop and squeeze out any excess moisture before adding them to the filling mixture.

Q: Can I freeze Spinach Cheese Manicotti? A: Yes, you can freeze unbaked manicotti for up to 3 months. Assemble the dish as directed but do not bake. Wrap the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking as directed.

Q: Can I make Spinach Cheese Manicotti ahead of time? A: Absolutely! You can assemble the dish ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours before baking. Just be sure to cover it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to prevent drying out.

Q: Can I use different types of cheese in the filling? A: Of course! Feel free to experiment with different cheeses such as fontina, provolone, or asiago to customize the flavor of the filling to your liking.

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Spinach Cheese Manicotti is a timeless Italian classic that never fails to impress. With its creamy ricotta filling, tender spinach, and flavorful sauce, it’s a dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or simply enjoying a cozy dinner at home, this recipe is sure to become a family favorite. So gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to enjoy the savory satisfaction of homemade Spinach Cheese Manicotti.

Embrace the comfort and flavor of Italian cuisine with Spinach Cheese Manicotti. From its creamy filling to its rich sauce, every bite is a celebration of indulgence and warmth. So gather your loved ones, pour a glass of wine, and savor the simple pleasures of good food and good company. Buon appetito!

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