I had a thought recently. Really! It happens. Just kidding. My thought was this: I spend a great deal of my time teaching about meal planning, taking cooking classes, searching for new recipes to try, discussing cooking and sharing recipes with friends. Especially with my meal planning on a budget class wrapping up, there are recipes I am asked to share frequently. I was chatting with a friend who is just starting her blogging adventure (check out Mama To The Max) and became energized to blog more about the foods I cook. I know this isn't JUST a cooking blog, in fact I have a kids' craft to write up this week as well, but hopefully sharing some of my family's menu items will help others expand their own menus and assist in meal planning efforts as well.
Today's recipe is a three cheese manicotti. The story behind this recipe is that my husband, when we were still just dating, would tell me how GREAT his sister's manicotti was. I made some once and he ate it, but it didn't pass the test. Why reinvent the wheel, right? So I called my sister-in-law and asked for her recipe. It is simple, requires basic ingredients and it really does taste great. Shout out to Julie for this family-pleasing meal. Here's what you need:
1 box manicotti pasta (about 12-16 tubes depending on brand)
1 quart marinara sauce (of course I use my homemade stuff, but pick what you like)
8 oz chopped spinach (I buy the frozen stuff and thaw)
1-1/2 cups each feta, ricotta, and parmesan cheeses
1 egg (optional)
Cook the manicotti as directed. We like ours al dente plus it's easier to stuff when it's not quite as soft. It will be baking in the oven, so it's ok if it's not all the way "done."
Combine the cheeses in a large bowl. If you're using fresh spinach, wilt it slightly. If you're using frozen, thaw and drain extremely well. Add spinach to cheese mixture. You can also add the egg at this time as well. It's not necessary, but does help the filling to stick together a little bit. I've made it both ways and the taste is the same.
Pour a little marinara in the bottom of your baking dish. I usually use a 9x13 Pyrex pan. Tip the pan to spread the marinara all over the bottom. It will help prevent sticking. Stuff the cooked pasta with the cheese mixture and place the tubes in the dish. Continue until all the mixture or tubes are used. I've had extra cheese before and it works well to make a personal sized lasagna.
Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the stuffed manicotti. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
If you ask me, it's the feta that makes this dish. Feta really is "bet-tah." Try it out and let me know what you think!