I’d say aside from chocolate, one of may favorite foods is pasta. Any kind of pasta. I usually make penne or angel hair, spaghetti or rigatoni. I rarely make stuffed pastas because they seem like so much work. I decided to try this manicotti, though, not because it seemed easier (you don’t have to boil the shells!), not because it was lighter, but because the filling had cottage cheese instead of ricotta. My sister used to make us lasagna when we lived at home, and I loved it. She used cottage cheese between the layers of pasta and sauce, and it was always a bit chewy, very flavorful, and not too cheesy. Most stuffed pasta recipes call for ricotta, which is good in its own way, but which I find too gritty and creamy–I always end up smushing out the excess ricotta from manicotti or shells or lasagna.
Anyway, this recipe is a definite repeater. It wasn’t too difficult, though stuffing the manicotti shells took some time. I thought the original recipe for the filling needed a bit more flavor, so I added garlic powder and basil, which turned out perfectly. Justin even loved this, and he’s not a fan of cooked spinach (although he was a bit upset that I hid it from him). Enjoy!
Easy Meatless Manicotti
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (8-ounce) package manicotti (14 shells)
- 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup water
Preheat oven to 375ï¿½F.
Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, and the next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons cheese mixture into each uncooked manicotti. Pour half of marinara sauce into a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer over sauce, and top with the remaining sauce. Pour 1 cup water into the dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella evenly over sauce. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour or until shells are tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 7 servings.
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.