Spinach Manicotti (with freezer prep steps)

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When you’re regularly cooking for 1, or super busy during the week, a recipe like this is perfect to prep ahead of time!  I love how you can pull out exactly the amount you need and heat in the oven and serve (and sneak in some veggies for those who might try to avoid eating the spinach.)… or just go ahead, cook the pasta a bit more and serve right then!

This time, I made enough for my husband and myself, then froze the rest. So you can do it any way that works for your family.

(Funny Update: When I made this for my dad in his freezer, my sister and nephews visited shortly after. They ate the entire thing in one meal. lol.)

I also have to say that making this with @UAVCheese, ricotta, a local cheese place, is always my favorite to use!

(Tip: If you’re using store bought sauce, try adding in some herbs, garlic, and/or sausage/meatballs.)

Ingredients:

1 box manicotti (or stuffed shells if you prefer)
1 clove garlic, chopped
12 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1 egg
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan or Asiago cheese
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (1 tbsp peston, or 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs)
salt and pepper
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  (Most manicotti boxes let you know how long to cook their pasta for baking later, so follow those directions. Barilla was 9 minutes.) Rinse and cool.

While noodles are boiling, mix ricotta, spinach, egg, mozzarella, and salt and pepper.

Fill the manicotti. (I like to use a piping bag to try to reduce the mess.)

In a baking dish, place some marinara as the base. Place as many manicotti as you want on top. Top with more sauce and cheese. (Pictured is just a dinner for 2. So we saved the rest for another lazy Sunday.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbling and warmed through. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Serve topped with additional Parmesan and/or fresh basil if you choose! 

For the freezer – Place them on a wax or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet in the freezer, uncovered, for about an hour or so (that way they don’t stick to each other in the bag.  Place frozen manicotti in a gallon zipper freezer and bag and freeze until needed. When ready to bake, place a little bit of marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Add the amount of manicotti you want to heat, and top with more sauce (and mozzarella if you choose.)  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes until heated through and bubbly. (I prefer to cover as I like my sauce less thick.)

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