We LOVE Italian food and it’s easy to make for kids. I am trying a new recipe tonight – Stuffed Manicotti. I think Italian food is one of the easiest things to make and one of the easiest things to sneak veggies into. You can grate carrots, zucchini, onion and garlic into meatballs, pasta sauce, lasagna, stuffed shells or Manicotti. Spinach is also a very easy thing to sneak into any of these meals too.
When making Manicotti you can either purchase pre-made manicotti shells or make them yourself using lasagna noodles. For this recipe I used lasagna noodles because that is what I had on hand. Why buy new when you have something in the pantry that will work just as well.
- 1 box of no boil lasagna noodles
- 1 jar of your favorite all natural pasta sauce or homemade
- 1-4oz of fresh Mozzarella Cheese
- 24 oz of ricotta cheese ( I used Natural by Nature)
- 2 carrots grated
- ½ red onion grated
- ½ lb mushrooms sliced or diced
- 2 gloves of garlic mashed and diced very fine
- 1 box of frozen spinach, defrosted and water drained out
- 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- Pepper and Oregano to taste
- Olive oil for drizzling
- **You can even add a little red pepper flakes for heat
- In a large bowl mix together Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, grated carrot, onion, garlic, spinach, egg and spices. Set aside
- First bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 5 or so lasagna noodles at a time and cook for about 4 minutes or just until tender enough to wiggle around. Keep stirring because they can stick together. Once they are done place them on a place and then add more noodles and cook the same way.
- Once the noodles are semi-cooked and ricotta mixture is made. Add a bit of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan then start making the Manicotti.
- Place one noodle at a time on a cutting board and scoop a big dollop of ricotta mixture on the top, then roll up and place in the pan.
- Once all the Manicoitti rolls are made put the rest of the pasta sauce on top then slice the mozzarella and place on top. Sprinkle pepper, oregano to taste then drizzle with olive oil
- Place foiled covered pan in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 45 minutes until noodles are cooked through and it's bubbling.
- **You can serve with crusty bread and salad. This is a great dish to freeze for another meal.
This recipe does take a bit of time so don’t make it when you are rushing around. I also love to make a huge batch so I can freeze the extras for another meal down the road. My suggestion is to take it out early in the morning or the night before and let it defrost before re-heating in the oven. We like to serve our Manicotti with a healthy salad and lots of crusty bread.