Of my own creation with a dash of mom inspiration
Prep: 25 minutes | Cook: 30 minutes | Bake: 350° | Makes: 6-8 servings
1 box manicotti shells (large shells can be substituted)
1 med container of ricotta cheese
1 bag (2 C) shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
1 box of frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and drained)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can or jar of spaghetti sauce
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 sm onion, diced
2-3 basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the pasta shells per box directions minus a minute or two. (You want them to almost be done because the shells will finish cooking while baking.)
While the pasta cooks, brown sausage. Add 2 cloves or garlic and onion to sausage as it browns. Drain. Add pasta sauce and cook on low.
In a mixing bowl, mix ricotta cheese with eggs. When well mixed, add spinach, remaining minced garlic, chopped basil leaves, salt, pepper and 1 C of shredded cheese. (Sometimes I’ll add a shake or two of parmesan cheese if I have it on hand) Mix evenly.
Place a sandwich bag in a cup and fill with filling mixture. Set aside. Drain pasta and run under cold water. This will stop the pasta from cooking and make it easier to handle.
Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with a spoonful of the sauce mixture. make sure the bag with the filling is sealed (and most air is out of it) and cut the tip. Use the bag like a pasty bag and fill the shells. Line the baking dish with the shells. Cover the shells with remaining sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. You may want to place the baking dish on top of a cookie sheet to prevent a bubbling over messes.
Chris and I were so hungry and waiting with so much anticipation that I forgot to get a photo of the meal finished. I promise it was beautiful and tasted amazing. The best part was leftovers the next day. I swear it tasted even better.