I am setting off to embark on an adventure of cooking. Right now, I am your run of the mill, standard house wife cook. I cook so that my family can eat. I want to do so much more than that. I want to cook so my family can enjoy. I want to cook so my family can be healthy. And I want to do those things without breaking the bank. So, today I start.
I made Spinach Manicotti today. I really liked it. However, my husband was not a fan. But, he is pretty picky, especially when it comes to veggies. I had never used manicotti noodles and I have to say, I failed. Almost every noodle was broken by the time it got done getting stuffed. But, it tasted really good, and that is the important part. After I cooked it, my mother in law told me next time, don’t cook the manicotti noodles as long. Take them out of the pot a little before they are done and make sure there is enough liquid in the pan when you bake them so they will finish cooking. So there’s a tip for ya.
So, I got this recipe out of Better Home and Garden Cookbook, but I changed a few things. It’s interesting because I looked through my mother in law’s copy, which was printed about 20 years ago, and there is only a very small section on pasta and it is actually combined with rice. In my book, which is only 3 years old, there are tons and tons of pasta recipes. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that people used to think pasta made you fat. People are now figuring out that whole grain pastas are actually really good for you.
Anyway, on to the food. I didn’t take pictures of the process because honestly, it was a little difficult to make, let alone take pictures while making it. I am not a very good cook (yet), so I was a little overwhelmed making this meal, but in the end, it was worth it.
So the first step is to boil 8 manicotti noodles according to the directions. When they have cooked, take them out of the water and allow them to cool on a greased piece of foil.
While that is happening, make your sauce. The book tells you to saute 2 green onions and a clove of garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter. I didn’t have either of those so I used some minced garlic and omitted the onions all together. It still tasted really good in my opinion.
After the butter is hot and your onion and garlic are soft, you stir in 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 1/3 cup milk. Cook on the stove until its think and bubbly (it only took about 2 minutes). Then, add 1/3 cup chicken broth and 3 ounces of swiss cheese. It melts quicker if it’s torn into pieces. And for chicken broth, I boiled a bullion cube in a cup of water.
After the sauce got done, I just let it simmer while I made the filling. The recipe calls for 10 ounces of frozen chopped spinach that has been thawed and drained. I used fresh spinach. I don’t have a scale, so I just used a few handfuls. It was no where close to 10 ounces, but it was plenty in my opinion. I wouldn’t use a full 10 ounces, but that’s just me. Anyway, chop up your spinach and add 1 egg (beaten), 3/4 cup ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel.
So, after you have made the filling, if you have any noodles that are still in one piece, stuff them with it. If the noodles are broken, just kind of make do.. I just put the stuffing in it and turned it so the broken side was down. You can’t tell once its all cooked. Then, pour the sauce over it and bake it at 350 for 30 minutes. Let it stand for 10 minutes before eating.
- 8 dried manicotti shells
- a tablespoon or so of minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cup milk
- 4 ounce swiss cheese
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 handfuls spinach chopped pretty small
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
- Preheat oven to 350
- Boil manicotti noodles according to package directions. When they are completely cooked, take them out of the water and allow them to cool on a greased piece of foil.
- While the noodles are cooking, make your sauce by sauteing the garlic in the butter.
- Stir in flour and milk. Cook until thick and bubbly (about 2 minutes).
- Add chicken broth and cheese. Let the sauce simmer until you are finished making the filling.
- mix together spinach, egg, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and lemon peel.
- Stuff the noodles with the filling and place in a 9X9 casserole dish.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
- Let stand 10 minutes before cooking.
- Onions can be added if desired. Also, it can be hard to stuff the noodles. If you put the stuffing in a ziploc bag and clip one corner you can pipe it in.