This has been my go-to manicotti recipe since I first saw it in Cook’s Illustrated. I recently realized that I haven’t made it in forever – which immediately led to a ‘must-make-manicotti-now-craving’. The great thing about this recipe is that it uses the no-boil lasagna sheets to roll up the manicotti – which makes it much simpler than trying to fill a slippery pasta tube. You have to be careful not to break any of the sheets though – I softened a few extra sheets to have ready for when one of them rips beyond repair (which is bound to happen!). I also like this version since it has spinach already in the filling – and they means I don’t have to make a separate vegetable to go along with this. So enjoy a simple salad and some crusty Italian bread to serve along this meal. Enjoy!
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- Table salt
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
Filling and Pasta
- 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, and chopped fine (1/2 of a frozen box of spinach)
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 10 -12 no-boil lasagna noodles
1. To make the sauce: Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt.
3. For the filling: Combine ricotta, 1/2 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, egg, spinach, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, basil, and nutmeg in medium bowl; set aside.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
5. To assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into a broilersafe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels; discard water in baking dish and dry baking dish.
6. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 3/4 cup sauce.
7. Spread generous 1/4 cup cheese-spinach mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle, which short side facing you. (this made 10 manicotti for me – 2 of the noodles were extra).
8. Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down. Top evenly with remaining sauce, ensuring that pasta is completely covered with sauce.
9. Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 30-40 minutes, then remove foil.
10. Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element), and heat broiler on low. Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan. Broil until cheese is spotty brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.
Source: Cook’s Illustrated