Thursday, May 19, 2011
Spinach Pesto Manicotti
We LOVED this dish! The pesto lends a rich flavor to the beef mixture that makes it taste like Italian sausage. Even our little daughter finished her entire plate of this stuff.
Now for my disclaimer.... this recipe isn't as "easy" as so many of the recipes that I love to post. Manicotti is not easy to stuff. If you follow the directions below it will be easier, but it will never be easy. I had to get my hands dirty to get this stuff in my dry noodles (if you cook the noodles first they are almost impossible to stuff). BUT! It really wasn't that big of a deal to me and with how delicious this turned out I will definitely be doing it again!
Also please be aware that this has a lengthy cooking time. I cooked my manicotti for the entire 50 minutes and it was perfect. PLAN AHEAD!
The picture and recipe are courtesy of BettyCrocker.com and can be found here.
SPINACH PESTO MANICOTTI
8 oz uncooked manicotti
1 lb extra-lean (at least 90%) ground beef
1 box (9 oz) Green Giant® frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain and chopped
4 oz mozzarella cheese, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup purchased pesto
1 jar (26 to 28 oz) tomato pasta sauce
1. Heat oven to 400°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, spinach, cheese, pesto and egg. If desired, add salt and pepper; mix well. For easier stuffing, place beef mixture in resealable freezer plastic bag; seal bag. Cut about 1-inch hole in bottom corner of bag.
3. Fill each manicotti by squeezing beef mixture into manicotti. When stuffing manicotti, don't cook it first. Fill with this great tasting filling, then add quarter of the jar of sauce to the bottom of your baking pan. Put your manicotti down, then add half of remaining sauce over the top; add water to the last quarter of sauce in the jar to make the jar half full-shake. Pour this over the top. Cover with foil.
4. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is no longer pink in center and noodles are soft.
Makes 6 servings
*NOTE! I use generic Great Value spaghetti sauce from Wal-mart because it is so inexpensive. I buy a packet of spaghetti seasoning and just add it to the jar of sauce after I have put down the first layer on the bottom of the pan and shake the jar up to mix. This gives the generic sauce a great and full flavor that we love. I bought the Garden variety sauce this time which has a full serving of vegetables in each individual serving. Might as well "healthify" it when you can!