Spinach and Cheese Manicotti (with freezer-ready steps)

IMG_0465When 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!

Ingredients:
1 box manicotti (or stuffed shells if you prefer)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
12 ounces ricotta cheese
12 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
1 egg
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs)
salt and pepper
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook for half the time on the box (in this case, 5 minutes.)  Once cooked, rinse and cool to the touch. (If you look them the whole time, they’ll overcook later… but you can always cook more and serve this recipe the same night.)

While noodles are boiling, saute olive oil, garlic, and spinach.

Mix ricotta, spinach, egg, mozzarella, and salt and pepper.

Fill the manicotti. Place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  IMG_0462

 

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.) Serve topped with additional Parmesan and/or fresh basil if you choose! IMG_0467

(If you aren’t making it frozen, layer the sauce in a baking dish, and bake, covered in the oven at 400 degrees at 30 minutes.)

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