Be sure you check out my time saving technique for stuffing the shells.
This is a nice potluck meal, freezer meal, Sunday lunch, or meal to take to a friend because you can make up the dish ahead of time, pop it in the freezer or fridge, and it only takes about 30 minutes to bake! I suggest doubling the recipe and making a pan to give away or stash in your freezer.
Manicotti or Stuffed Shells
- 12 large manicotti shells (or about 24 jumbo shells)
- 4 c. shredded mozzarella, divided
- 2 c. ricotta cheese
-1/2 c. grated parmesan
- 6 tbs. chopped fresh basil (or 2 tbs. dried basil)
- 26 oz. jar spaghetti sauce, divided (I use a quart of homemade.)
Optional ingredients - you can make the filling anything you want it to be... you can use cottage cheese instead of ricotta. Spinach, hamburger or sausage are all nice additions.
1. Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a 13x9" baking dish. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cool water. Let pasta dry on clean towels. (Just make sure they aren't linty!)
2. Pour a bit of spaghetti sauce into the bottom of the pan. (Just enough to completely cover.)
3. For the filling: In a medium bowl, stir together 3 c. of mozzarella with the ricotta, basil, and parmesan. (This is the time to mix in any optional fillings.)
4. Stuff the shells with this mixture. *** See hints below! ***
5. Arrange the stuffed pasta over the sauce.
6. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce on top of pasta. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
7. Bake for 30 minutes. (May broil a couple of minutes to brown the cheese on top.)
Salad, breadsticks or garlic bread all make nice additions.
*** Hints for stuffing the pasta ***
The jumbo shells are very easy to stuff with a teaspoon. Be generous with your stuffing.
This technique is shown in the picture above: The manicotti is a hundred times easier to stuff if you cut down the length of the pasta with kitchen scissors, stuff, then fold the sides of the pasta back into its original shape. Lay it seam side down in the pan and no one can tell that you've taken this short cut, and I promise you it will take you a fraction of the time of trying to pipe the filling into the shells! (I know from experience!)
Freezer dinners to take to a friend - I cover the pans in foil and write the baking instructions right on it with a sharpie.
I like to buy the disposable aluminum pans to use when I am making a meal for someone. I realized how nice they were when I was on the receiving end of some meals delivered this way. After the meal is eaten, the pan can be thrown away and they also get the gift of not having to scrub a messy pan!
Joining the Four Moms Freezer Meal linkup.