I will say, for a quick and easy weeknight fix, this recipe is perfect. However, I didn't read the recipe very well before I started it, just the ingredients for my grocery run. I probably would have avoided some of the issues you'll read below. Posting this with the way I made mine, as well as the option to make it according to Cooking Light's Recipe Makeovers magazine. Overall, not a flop but could have been better.
Nutritional facts for each serving (size = 2 manicotti) 328 calories, 9g of fat, 23.9g protein, 38.3g carbs, 3.9g fiber, 23mg cholesterol, 3 mg iron, 451mg calcium.
- 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 carton fat-free cottage cheese
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry (OR 5 cups fresh chopped spinach leaves, sauteed in a little olive oil and wilted down)
- 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 6-8 manicotti shells
- 1 jar of fat free tomato-basil pasta sauce
- Garlic, crushed
- Cooking Spray
In a pot, boil the manicotti shells until al dente. I failed, forgetting how fast they cook and mine were a little overdone. A few tore when lifted by the spoon so I ended up with only 5 of 8 that I had started with. As I said, my head was just somewhere else. Once cooked, drain and separate noodles on a plate so they do not stick to one another. This is what I did. What the recipe called for (and what I did not pay attention to) was to not cook the pasta noodles but stuff them and allow the noodles to cook in the casserole dish. Hmm. Take your pick!
Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese, dried oregano and crushed garlic. Mix well then season with the salt and pepper.
Stuff about 4 spoon's worth of the cheese mixture into one end of the shell. I wish I had 4 hands so I could have taken a picture of this epic fail for you. Not thinking about what I was doing, I had the shell vertical to stuff and the contents would slide right on out. Geez - don't think deep and cook... Finally got them stuffed. Had I thoroughly read the recipe before I started, I wouldn't have had this problem. Again, take your pick.
Spray your oven safe dish with cooking spray then pour 1/2 of your tomato-basil pasta sauce into the dish. Arrange your stuffed shells over the sauce and top with the rest. At this time, if you are like me you can top with cheese and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes or until browned. If you would like to follow the initial recipe, you pour in1 cup of water into the dish. Then sprinkle the remaining cheese over top and cover with foil. Stick in the oven for 1 hour or until shells are tender.
This was plenty filling for both Mr. Max and myself, served with a side salad to round it out.