Friday, May 3, 2013

Spinach Manicotti

I made a spinach manicotti today and used fresh mozzarella and fresh spinach.  Spinach was on sale last week for 50 cents a bag and I had to use it up.

1 bag of spinach
12 cooked manicotti pasta shells (I make extra because they sometime tear)
1 container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese (you can use grated if you like)
1 tbs. garlic (I like to used the store bought garlic in a jar that is already minced for me)
1 tsp. onion powder
Ragu Alfredo sauce (any brand is OK or you can make your own)
Salt and pepper

Put olive oil in frying pan and add chopped garlic.  Add your spinach and let it wilt down.  Add your salt and pepper and onion powder.  Add your 3 cheeses and let them melt down. 

Boil your manicotti  shells in boiling salt water with a bit of olive oil.  About 20 minutes.  Do not over cook.  Let the manicotti shells cool well before filling.

Let your cheese and spinach cool and put in a baggie.  Cut off the tip and squeeze into your shells.  Place them in a sprayed pan.  Should make about 8 shells.  Today I was lazy.  I had a jar of Ragu Alfredo sauce and used it so I did not have to make a béchamel sauce.  You will not need to use it all.  Just cover the top of the manicotti. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and/or fresh mozzarella cheese. 

Bake for about 25 minutes until it begins to turn golden on top.  It is already cooked so you only need to brown on top.  You can speed things up if you like and put it under the broiler.  Just make sure you watch it and don’t let it burn.  I never walk away from my broiler because I have burnt too many things.

Stuffing shells does make a mess.  If you want to save a mess and simplify things use lasagna noodles and make lasagna using the same ingredients.  When you have made your cheese and spinach mixture, add your Alfredo sauce or a béchamel sauce to the mixture.  Taste to see if it might need more seasoning.  This becomes your sauce for between the lasagna noodles.  Just layer and bake.  I like to use the no cook lasagna noodles.  They are the only way to go and it makes it even simpler. 

Béchamel Sauce

I’ll share a béchamel sauce in case you want to make your own.

5 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup flour
4 cups warm milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the warm milk, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 8 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Taste for seasonings and adjust if needed. This will not give you the intense flavor that the Ragu would because it has cheese in it.  You might want to add a little more cheese in the cheese mixture to make up for it.  

You can also freeze any left over for another day and just microwave them to reheat them.

Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.  

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