Ok, I made this back in May, I think, but was un-impressed. At the time, I made a big batch for our fam to eat the next day, and a small batch (8x8 pan) for the freezer. I took the lazy way out and did not pre-boil my manicotti shells. So, the first batch, the un-frozen one, was ok. (That's the one in the pic above... turned out a bit too dry for us). I wasn't even going to post in on here. But.... about a month and half later, we took the frozen one out, baked it, and ate it. It was SO much better!! It was very good. A great texture- just moist enough, great flavor, etc. I added some good-quality Parmigiano Reggiano to the second batch, and I'm sure that helped, as well. But freezing it must have done something- it was just perfect after being frozen. (If you do freeze this, cover first w/plastic wrap, then foil. For extra protection, stick the whole thing in a freezer bag. Thaw in fridge 24 hours before baking, or at least overnight).
Maybe I should stick one of these in my freezer for a post-baby dinner that's ready to go! I'll post a small (8x8 pan) recipe below; double it if needed. It's filling, so the small recipe fed my fam of 5 just fine with some steamed broccoli on the side.
adapted from Skinner's Pasta
1/2 package (4 oz) Manicotti noodles, uncooked
1 1/2- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cups spaghetti or pasta sauce (I prefer meatless)
1. In a large bowl, stir together ricotta, mozzarella, 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper; spoon into uncooked pasta tubes (you may boil them first if you really want to).
2. Spread 1/2 cup sauce on bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish; arrange filled pasta in single layer over sauce. Cover with remaning sauce and Parmesan cheese.
3. If baking right away: Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
4. For freezing: Use a disposable aluminum pan (small cake pan). Prepare as directed but do not back. Cover with plastic wrap; then foil. If desired, stick the whole pan into a freezer-safe ziploc bag. Label the package- include baking temp and time. Freeze up to 2 months. When ready to bake: Remove plastic wrap, replace foil. Thaw out overnight in fridge for faster cooking. If thawed, baked at 350 F for 30-40 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. If cooking from frozen; bake at 350 for about 2 hours or until hot and bubbly.
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