Friday, September 7, 2012

Lazy Manicotti

Did you know that you don't have to mess around with manicotti (stuffed shells) or lasagna noodles? You can use all the same ingredients to make a much easier dish. This recipe is from the New York Times International Cookbook (1971 edition.)


  • 1 lb. fresh spinach leaves (or 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry)
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3-4 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. tubelike pasta such as penne or elbows


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Rinse fresh spinach leaves, put them in a large pot, and steam for just a couple minutes, until wilted. You shouldn't have to add any water - just use the water that clings to the leaves. Once they have started to wilt, stir so that the uncooked leaves go to the bottom.
  3. Pour spinach into a colander and let cool for a while. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much of the water as you can.
  4.  In a large bowl, combine ricotta, spinach, tomato sauce, and eggs. Season with parsley, pepper and salt (if desired.)
  5. Rinse out the spinach cooking pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta for only two minutes (four minutes if using whole-grain pasta.) You want it to be seriously al dente. Drain and add to the ricotta mixture.
  6.  If desired, spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Otherwise, just oil the pan. Pour everything into the pan and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
  7. Bake uncovered in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until pasta is soft but not mushy.
Notes: the original recipe calls for 3 eggs, additional Parmesan in the filling, and two pounds of spinach (including stems.) I buy spinach leaves and 1 pound seems to be sufficient. I haven't tried it with frozen spinach myself. Also I don't always have parsley on hand.

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