Milkmaid's Recipe Box

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! I'm such a FARMER at heart-- even a CALF knows that so much in life is about the FOOD! (A bit of a "bio" about me can be found way down near the bottom.)

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spinach/Sausage/Cheese Stuffed Manicotti**

Since finding this particular recipe in 2007, I've made and liked this Manicotti pasta stuffed with sausage, chopped spinach, and ricotta, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, eggs; topped with a favorite spaghetti sauce.

With this, you can make just 1 lb. meat go far! These are good (and fancy) enough to serve 'for special', but are easy to make!   According to the website (see bottom) where I found this recipe, it was found in a great little booklet called, Dinner on the Double, by Better Homes and Gardens."  (It was listed in a collection of recipes considered to be Low-Glycemic.)

For me, the 'filling' mix below ends up being enough to stuff about 23 of the large Manicotti pasta tubes-- this means you'll need a very large baking dish, or use two separates.  Of the two 14-ct. boxes of Manicotti, there may be about five 'left over' (empty).

  • 2 boxes (8 oz. each) Manicotti pasta tubes (this may total 28 'tubes')*
  • 1 lb bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained (I used a one pound tube of sage flavored sausage).  To get more fat out of the sausage, I start frying with water added.  When browned, I drain fat off and 'rinse more off' by pouring very hot water over sausage in a colander.
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed and drained
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (can use low-fat variety)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce

*You can also use the jumbo SHELL pasta (you'll need about 32 of them) and they make for a super pretty finished dish, but... although I've used them,  I don't care for how, when boiling them, they like to 'nest' into each other causing some to end up with little rips as they are pulled apart.

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions and add 1 minute to that. Drain and rinse with cold water, and drain again.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients, except spaghetti sauce, in a large bowl and mix very well.
  3. Fill each pasta tube.  (I like to use my large pastry bag for this-- without using a special tip you can squirt the filling the length of the tube with a little "oomph", but a plastic bag with a snipped off corner m-i-g-h-t work, too.)
  4.  Spray your baking dish with non-stick.  It works great to put down a thin layer of spaghetti sauce.  Place the filled pastas in the dish.
  5. Top with your favorite spaghetti sauce. (I used Chunky Ragu Garden Combination.)
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through, about 30-40 minutes.  Cover loosely with foil if you notice the top getting darker than you'd like.  (If baking from frozen state, add minimum of 30 minutes and then check for doneness.)
  7. To freeze:  It is best to freeze before baking.  You may freeze individually wrapped filled pasta without sauce, or freeze sauce-topped shells in a baking dish (tightly covered).  How I freeze these 'individual filled pastas' without the tomato sauce on them:  Space them on a  baking sheet lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper;  freeze overnight; remove them, vacuum seal the number you want in a bag; date/label and return to freezer. 
  8. Yield:  10-12 servings 
** I first made this back in 2007, and it hasn't gotten 'old' in that it remains an especially easy  'go to' recipe for me when having Sunday dinner guests-- I say that because it can be prepared ahead of time and served the next day, OR frozen and baked whenever needed.  I found this recipe on the website of Natural Health Doc, Dr. Linda Hadley, N.D., D.SC., Ph.D. 

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