Cheese and Spinach Manicotti
Here's a sorta-fast, pretty cheap, and easy meal with which to entertain yourself the next time you're bored like I am tonight. It's 9pm and my roommates are asleep so the house is a bit too placid. How about some kitchen magic to spice things up? My plan is to wake up the roommates with some delicious food, just in case they forgot I'm the best roommate ever.
If you want to join in, buy, find, or steal these things.
- 1 box of manicotti noodles (I think there are 12-14 noodles is standard for a box)
- 1 package of frozen spinach (10oz package. Sorry; I forgot to take a picture before I tore this one apart. You can use fresh spinach if you want, but that will make this whole process a lot longer)
- 1 container of ricotta cheese (1.5 cups is good - I think mine was 15oz)
- 1 jar of red spaghetti-type sauce
- 2 large eggs (it doesn't really matter what size egg - I think I used jumbo)
- 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese (2 cups is good)
- assorted spices (I used pepper and parsley; be creative!)
- Start heatng water in a big pot (it takes forever). When the water starts to boil (in 10-15min), dump in the manicotti noodles. Make sure you stir the noodles after dumping them in, I forgot to do this and a couple of mine stuck to the pot (they don't survive sticking to the pot ).
- Unwrap the frozen spinach and thaw it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. I recommend unthawing it in the same bowl you will use to mix the rest of the manicotti stuffing (to minimize cleanup), so pick a decently sized one. You might want to strain the spinach after the thawing. I forgot to do this and my stuffing was a little runny.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you live in a college house like me, this probably doesn't look as disgusting as it does to normal people.
- Chop up about a fourth of the onion.
- Mix the onion, eggs, ricotta, 1/2 of the mozerella (1 cup), and spinach.
- Add spices. I probably put about a teaspoon of pepper and a teaspoon of parsley. I don't know if it will make a difference.
- It should look something like this. Don't eat it though (raw eggs bad).
- Dramatic noodle-box shot!
Did you remember to put the noodles into the boiling water? If you haven't done so, do it now. If you have, keep track of how long they have been in the water. You want them "al dente" and, as the box I bought says, that will take 8-9 minutes. Like I said before, don't forget to stir them occasionally to prevent pot-stickage.
- Next, fish the manicotti noodles out of the pot. The easiest way to do this (so you don't have to clean the strainer) is to transfer the pot from stove to sink and turn on the cold water. After a minute or so, the water will be cool enough that you can reach in and fish out the noodles.
- Now stuff the noodles with the stuffing. This is pretty straightforward. I usually hold the noodle upright, squeezing one end shut while I stuff into the other. It was too much work to get a good picture of myself doing this, so deal with it.
- I made a graveyard in the corner of the baking dish for the reject noodles that stuck to the bottom of the boiling pot. If you have some of these, you can still use them to make a mini-lasagna like I am doing. Just put a layer of stuffing in between layers of noodle.
- Spread about 1 cup of the sauce into a large baking pan. You can use two baking pans if you only have weird square ones or something. I used way too much sauce for this, but it doesn't really matter. 1 cup is plenty, but don't dirty a measuring cup to get that amount, just dump some in there.
- Now plop the stuffed manicotti into the pan. Spread the rest of the sauce over them, then sprinkle the rest of the mozzarella on top (should be about 1 cup left)
- Put it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
- Good work. You're almost finished. I recommend treating yourself with a nice beverage while you wait for the pasta to cook.
- mmm. Actually I don't like beer that much, but it can be refreshing, especially after cooking.
- Pull from oven. Careful; use mitts.
- Looks great! Are the roommates still asleep?
- Yep. Better suprise them with some food.
- Suprise! Wake up for dinner! Kyle looks happy.
- Time for eating! Bye now.