Imagine, if you will, a cute (I’m sorry, handsome) 4 year-old boy and an adorable almost-2 year-old girl dancing around and singing “manny-cotti, manny-cotti”. That was the music heard in my kitchen the other evening.
Braden had been asking since we moved in to this house for me to make manicotti. Since we were able to “quickly” run our errands (it only took us an hour to do proof of residence for the school district – sheesh), we had time in the afternoon to make it.
You see, it takes a while to make. You need a good 2-hour time window usually, especially if you are doing it with children in the house.
This recipe was given to me when I was in high school, by my friend Janet. It only needed one modification to be gluten-free: the noodles.
Makes two large (9×13) pans.
Two boxes of Tinkyada Grand Shells (they’re the only stuffable gf shells I know of)
4 large eggs
2 Tablespoons dried parsley flakes
1 large container ricotta cheese
1 pint cottage cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 jars spaghetti sauce
1 pound browned ground beef (optional)
- Cook the pasta until flexible, but not completely cooked. (Follow the directions on the box, just don’t go all the way.)
- While the pasta is boiling, prep the stuffing. In a large bowl, with a fork, beat the eggs and parsley. Add the ricotta cheese and stir until well-mixed. Mix in the cottage cheese. Add in the shredded cheeses and mix thoroughly (you will probably have to switch to a large spoon or spatula by this point).
- When the pasta is at the flexible/mostly cooked point, rinse with cold water, until it is cool enough to handle. Don’t leave it in a strainer – it will dry out. Leave it in the pot with a little bit of cool water so that the shells won’t stick together.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Stuff the shells with cheese mixture. You can fill them, but if you overfill them you’ll end up a little short of the cheese stuffing. Lay out in two 9×13 pans (or something like that – it doesn’t really matter as long as you can fit it all in there).
- Sprinkle the cooked ground beef over the shells.
Tip: When you cook ground beef, cook a lot and freeze it in quart-sized bags, roughly a pound per bag. Then you always have some ready. I almost always add dried minced onions when cooking ground beef (we prefer those over fresh). I’ll often add fresh spinach, too, especially if the spinach in my fridge is not-so-perky anymore.
- Smooth the spaghetti sauce over the shells and meat. (You can combine the ground beef and the sauce first if you want. I don’t, because it just makes more dishes that need to be washed.
- Cook for 1 hour.
- Enjoy, preferably with others!