>> Monday, September 28, 2009
We have a Christmas tradition in our house - manicotti! (Don't worry...this post really has nothing to do with Christmas. Just throwing that little tidbit out there for no apparent reason.) I'm not really sure how it got started, but it's stuck. It's good, filling, and easy. Manicotti is not just for Christmas though, of course. It's a favorite year round with us.
Today I want to share my recipe for manicotti with you. The original recipe came from a magazine - Southern Living, I think - but I've changed it up a bit to suit my tastes. I use jarred marinara for my sauce - Newman's Own Marinara, to be exact - but feel free to use your favorite sauce, jarred or homemade. I also use a bit more sauce than the recipe below calls for. I like my pasta saucy! So, feel free to use more or less sauce depending on your tastes.
This dish is a real kid pleaser, and it's a great one to hide veggies in. I like to add sweet potato puree to the spaghetti sauce, but you could also add other veggies. Maybe saute some mushrooms and add to the spaghetti sauce, or cauliflower puree in the cheese sauce, or carrot puree in the spaghetti sauce, or shredded zucchini in the spaghetti sauce. You get the idea. The sauce and cheese flavors are strong enough that added veggies would add only a subtle flavor.
Easy, Cheesy Manicotti
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 large egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
3/4 cup sweet potato puree (optional)
12 manicotti shells, cooked per box instructions
1 large jar spaghetti sauce (more or less to taste)
Combine 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and the next 5 ingredients (cheese through egg).
Stuff each shell with about a 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture. Arrange in a 13x9x2" baking dish.
Mix spaghetti sauce and sweet potato puree. Pour sauce over shells.
Cover and back at 375 for 25 min or until thoroughly heated. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes.
A tip for working with the manicotti - if your manicotti tears, don't worry about it! Just put a little filling in the center of the pasta strip and fold the pasta around the filling. Put in the baking dish so that it stays folded in a cylindrical shape. No one will ever know the difference!