An old world Italian dish with style, Meatless Monday Cheese Stuffed Manicotti is delicious and versatile.
Meatless Monday Cheese Stuffed Manicotti is quick enough to be a weeknight dinner, and fancy enough to be a weekend dish for entertaining friends and family. I actually started observing meatless monday around the middle of last year, and I’ve got some great recipes I’ll be sharing in a series for Meatless Mondays.
Just look at all that fabulous melty-cheesy-pasta goodness!
Recipe tips for creating Meatless Monday Cheese Stuffed Manicotti at home.
Since the pasta shells (Manicotti) will be baked in sauce in the oven, we only want to cook them halfway (parboil) them in boiling water so they’ll finish cooking to the perfect consistency in the marinara sauce.
When the water comes to a rolling boil, I always add about a tablespoon of salt to the water before slipping each shell in one at time. After cooking only 5 minutes, I remove them with the handle of a wooden spoon and set them on a clean kitchen towel in a single layer so they don’t stick together. They’re soft, but not slippery/rubbery, making them much easier to handle and stuff with cheese.
I’ve recently discovered RAO’s Marinara sauce and it’s definitely my new favorite marinara sauce. The taste is simply amazing and better than all other brands out there; I recommend giving a bottle a try! Spray your baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and coat the bottom with marinara sauce. THEN you get to the fun part; filling the shells with a fabulous mixture of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, basil and parsley.
Loading the mixture into a gallon-size zippered bag with a corner snipped off is a fantastic way to quickly pipe these pasta shells with cheesy goodness!
Lay them in a single layer over the sauce. Then pour the rest of the jar over the top and spread it all around to cover the pasta. It will absorb some of the sauce (and the flavor!) while it bakes in the oven.
Cover the pasta with more mozzarella and parmesan (here all I had in the fridge was parm flakes, but they worked just fine too :0) and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes covered, and then an additional 10-15 more uncovered until the cheese is bubbly and browned in spots.
Let it cool, serve with some great crusty bread and a side salad, and you have a fabulous meal sans meat that even the heartiest meat lover will scarf down without a second thought to the fact that this baby is all vegetarian!! If you like or try this recipe, please rate it with my new star ratings feature in the comment section below :0) Meatless Monday Cheese Stuffed Manicotti is best eaten right away, leftovers may be a bit dry as thirsty pasta continues to soak up moisture as it sits.
Meatless Monday Cheese Stuffed Manicotti
Yield 7-10 Servings
An old world Italian dish with style, Cheesy Stuffed Manicotti is delicious and versatile. It's quick enough to be a weeknight dinner, and fancy enough to be a weekend dish for entertaining friends and family.
- 1 Box Manicotti shells
- 3 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
- 1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
- 1 15-ounce container of ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons dried basil, or 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley, or one tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- 2 eggs
- 1 24-ounce Jar of your favorite tomato based marinara sauce ( I love RAO's)
- Set your oven to heat to 350 degrees F and lightly spray a 13 X 9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
- In a large stockpot, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the manicotti shells one at a time. Set a clean kitchen towel out on the counter next to the pot. Boil the manicotti shells for 5 minutes, then remove the shells from the water and place them on the towel in a single layer.
- While the manicotti cooks, stir together 3 cups of mozzarella cheese, 1 cup of parmesan cheese, the entire container of ricotta cheese, basil, parsley and eggs. Pour enough marinara sauce into the baking dish to just cover the bottom.
- Load cheese mixture into a gallon sized zippered bag. Snip a tiny portion of the corner to an opening of about 1/2 inch - 3/4 inch. Pipe each manicotti shell with the cheese mixture and set it into the baking dish on top of the marinara sauce. Fill the baking dish with a single layer of stuffed manicotti. Pour the remainder of the jar of Marinara sauce over the top, trying to cover as much exposed pasta as possible (I use a spoon to spread it around if necessary).
- Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup of Mozzarella and 1/2 cup parmesan. Cover with foil and place in the oven to bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil cover and continue to bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese on top is bubbly and brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.
Looking for more in my Meatless Monday series? Check these out:
Free ebook for all Subscribers!
What will you stuff in your sopapillas? Subscribe now to receive your free copy of Sopapilla Fiesta! today with six recipe combinations of stuffings and chili sauces. Bonus dessert recipe included!