Have you always wanted to try a manicotti recipe?
Have you avoided doing so because you’re intimidated by the thought of making it yourself?
Don’t worry, I have you covered.
This easy manicotti recipe is perfect for beginners. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to make this classic Italian dish.
Plus, this particular recipe is 100% vegetarian-friendly!
It may be meat-free, but it’s stuffed to the brim with flavor.
It’s cheesy, saucy, and absolutely decadent. Each bite is like a little taste of heaven.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking!
If you’re a fan of Italian, you’re probably familiar with stuffed manicotti.
Even if you’ve never made it yourself, it’s one of the more famous Italian dishes.
People make it with all kinds of different ingredients. Some use ground beef or veggies, and others stuff it with garlic and spinach.
This recipe is for super cheesy, meat-free manicotti.
What makes manicotti special are the oversized, stuffed noodles.
Once you have those ready, cover them in pasta sauce and bake them.
And if you love cheese, this is the recipe for you. It features three different kinds of cheese.
And all of them melt into the shell to create a fantastic texture and taste.
The flavors are simple and classic, and the whole family will love them.
Manicotti isn’t hard to make despite being such a decadent, impossible-to-resist dish.
And it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, either.
Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Manicotti: It’s hard to make manicotti without manicotti, right? Well, actually, not as hard as you might think. Manicotti shells work best. However, jumbo pasta shells can be a good substitution if you don’t have any on hand.
- Ricotta: It’s hard to find good Italian dishes without ricotta. It seems to be the go-to Italian cheese. It has a phenomenal flavor and gives the manicotti a creamy, luscious texture. For this recipe, part skim ricotta works best.
- Mozzarella: Mozzarella is another tasty cheese. It enhances the overall flavor of the dish.
- Parmesan: Parmesan is one of my favorite cheeses. It provides a nice, tangy flavor and another level of cheesiness to the manicotti.
- Eggs: Eggs may seem like an odd ingredient, but they really aren’t. They help all those delicious cheeses bind together into one fantastic filling.
- Parsley: Everything tastes better with a few herbs and seasonings. In this recipe, that’s where parsley comes in. It adds a slight earthiness to help round out the dish.
- Salt and pepper: Salt and pepper are pretty self-explanatory. Season the manicotti with both to suit your tastes.
- Spaghetti sauce: Pick up your favorite brand and flavor of spaghetti sauce, or make your own. Either way, the sauce lays the foundation and acts as the topping for the recipe. It’s robust, tomatoey, and pairs well with all the different cheese varieties. You could also substitute marinara if you prefer.
Some people add Italian seasoning, ground beef, and other ingredients.
For this recipe, though, I think these nine simple ingredients suffice.
How to Make Manicotti
When making manicotti, there are four things to remember:
That’s it. If you can remember that order, you can make manicotti.
Start by boiling the pasta, and preheat the oven while you’re at it. (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
Once the pasta is ready, mix the filling. Then, stuff the filling in the shells and put them in your baking dish.
Cover everything with sauce, and bake it.
The process shouldn’t take longer than an hour from start to finish.
(And approximately 45 minutes of that is baking time.) Easy, peasy, and deliciously cheesy!
How to Store Manicotti
When it comes to storing manicotti, there are two different things to consider.
1. Are you making it ahead of time and storing it to cook later? Or
2. Are you storing the leftovers?
The answer to those questions will determine how you store this dish.
Let’s start with making it ahead of time.
You follow the recipe as written. However, you won’t preheat the oven or bake the manicotti.
Instead, you’ll boil the pasta, make the filling, and stuff the shells.
Add the sauce, cover the dish, and stick it in the fridge or freezer for later.
It’ll keep for up to several hours in the fridge and quite a bit longer in the freezer.
Then, when it’s time to cook it, follow the directions for baking it.
Because the dish is cold, it may take longer to bake, though.
When storing leftovers, ensure the dish is completely cooled.
Then, transfer it to an air-tight container and stick it in the fridge or freezer.
It’ll last in the fridge for about 3 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months.
However, the texture might be slightly different after thawing it from frozen.
Tips for the Perfect Manicotti Pasta
Before you check out the recipe card, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years:
- Don’t overcook your pasta! In fact, for this recipe, undercooked pasta works best. (The official term for this is al dente.) The pasta should still be firm when bitten. Remember, you’ll cook the pasta again in the oven, so it’s okay if it isn’t completely done after boiling it. Plus, firmer shells are easier to stuff.
- Pre-make to save time. As I mentioned above, you can make this ahead of time. Do everything but the baking, and place it in the fridge. Then, when it’s time for dinner, you just have to stick it in the oven.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you have an Italian seasoning blend that you know you love, use it! You aren’t limited to the ingredients on this list.
- Add salt to your pasta water. It may seem strange to season boiling water, but it’s worth it. It adds the perfect amount of salt to your pasta and keeps it from being bland.
- Hand-shredded cheese is best. Store-bought shredded cheese is more convenient to use. Unfortunately, manufacturers often add preservatives and ingredients to keep the cheese from clumping. Those can make it hard to melt. Shred fresh cheese instead. It has a better taste, too.
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