Friday, September 16, 2011

Free Recipe Friday...Spinach Anyone???

There's sooo much more to this recipe than just saying it's all about spinach.
It's Spinach Manicotti and it's pure delicious-ness! 

Greens of any kind have never been my first choice,
for any meal or side dish... 
so for me, the spinach in this recipe is a big deal! 
What I have had to do over the years is find ways
to make those vitamin rich greens into something I will eat...
and this one stands quite tall! 
My family on the other hand, really has no problem with greens whatsoever. 
Our youngest daughter has surprised me the most. 
She is a whopping 12 1/2 years old and loves all kinds of 'weird' things.  
The night I made this dish,
she actually requested a separate serving of plain spinach on the side! 
(She LOVES it, along with sardines, brussel sprouts, okra and broccoli!) 
This recipe came from our handy, dandy, treasured church cookbook. 
Aren't those the best!?
The official name for this deliciousness is
'Make-Ahead Spinach Manicotti'
(page 86, thank you Cindy Chessman!!!)
I remember wayyy back in the day
when we all were told we had to boil noodles
for such dishes as manicotti, lasagna, etc.,
before just made me dread making them.
Then I stumbled upon this jewel of a recipe.
You can make it ahead! You don't have to boil the noodles!  Yay!
This recipe opened up a whole new realm for me.
I realized that if I could make this recipe ahead,
I could make lasagna ahead as well - without boiling the noodles!
No more buying the 'no boil' noodles...what a waste!
(Just make sure it's a bit more 'liquidy'
as the noodles will absorb a bit of liquid.)
So, let's get you too, can enjoy this
ooey, gooey-ness, filled with yummy spinach...there, I said it!


1 - 15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
1 - 10 oz. pkg. frozen, chopped spinach
thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (we double this)
3/4 cup parmesan
1 egg
*seasoning have been adjusted to our tastes*
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
 2 cans (or jars) of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 - 8 oz. pkg manicotti shells

Spray a 9x13 casserole dish with vegetable spray
and pour a bit of spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom.
Set aside.  In a large bowl combine ricotta, spinach,
half of the mozzarella and parmesan,
the egg and the spices.  Mix well. 
Here's the fun part. 
If you can incooperate your family somehow in this process,
it would be great.  It can get a bit messy!
Fill, smoosh or stuff the uncooked manicotti shells
with your ricotta mixture.  I just use my hands.
You could put the mixture in a gallon freezer bag,
cut off a corner and squeeze it in the shells...
or use a pastry bag...but sometimes I'm just too cheap and so
I've just found it to be quicker and 'less mess'
to just grab a handful of the mixture
and push it in each end of the manicotti shell. 
Next, place each filled shell on top of the layer of sauce in your 9x13 pan.
Fill remaining shells and place into you casserole pan.
Pour remaining spaghetti/marinara sauce onto shells in pan.
Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
You can either cover and refrigerate overnight at this point,
as the cookbook recipe states
or go ahead and bake...which is what we usually do.
Just remember if you refrigerate it overnight
you will need to let it come to room temp a bit
before placing it into the oven.

Bake at 350 for appx 45 minutes.
Let it rest and cool down from it's lava hotness a bit.
Serve with a great salad and some crunchy bread! Yum!

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