One of my hubby’s favorite meals is manicotti. He orders it every time we are at an Italian restaurant. I never attempted to make it because I was intimidated by the filing. The filling has to be cheesy, flavorful and smooth. After 17 years of marriage, I thought what the heck, may as well try to make it for the hubby. I think he will stick around if I majorly screw it up, lol! I am so glad I tried because my Four Cheese Manicotti turned out fantastic! I am very proud to say it is truly my own concoction and officially a recipe I created all by myself! The filling was creamy, cheesy and packed with flavor! So without further adieu, here’s the recipe!
Printable Recipe: 4 cheese manicotti
Manicotti tubes (*2 boxes, see NOTE)
1 can Hunt’s Garlic & Herb Spaghetti Sauce (*2 cans, see NOTE)
16 oz tub cottage cheese
15 oz tub ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups finely shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Boil manicotti noodles per package directions. After noodles are fully cooked, drain the water out.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the baking dish.
Drain and rinse the cottage cheese. Add cottage cheese to a large bowl. In the same bowl, add the ricotta cheese, eggs, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, dried parsley flakes, pepper and salt.
Using a mixer, mix all ingredients in the bowl for approximately two minutes on medium speed. Mix should be well blended and smooth.
Fold in the parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese with a spatula.
If you are making this for guests, you will want to put the filling into a gallon Ziploc bag. Snip the corner of the Ziploc creating a 1/2 inch opening. In one hand, hold the manicotti tube upright on one of its ends and squeeze the filling with your other hand into the opposite manicotti end. Squeeze until the noodle is filled but not overstuffed. Lay the filled manicotti tube on top of the sauce in your dish. Repeat until all noodles are used up.
Now if you are making it for your family, let’s just get real, right here, right now. Stuffing them manicotti tubes was a pain in the arse! I just ended up purposely ripping the noodle down one of its seams. I then took small handfuls of filling and smashed a thick layer of it onto the inner wall of the noodle. Then I wrapped the shell back together lining the seams up and laid the manicotti noodle with its ripped seam down on top of the sauce. No one was the wiser and no one complained that my shells weren’t intact. This is probably due to the fact the filling was fanfreakingtastic and no one cared after having a bite of it, lol!
Once the pan is full of stuffed manicotti tubes, pour the remaining spaghetti sauce over the noodles. I ended up with a total of 12 filled manicotti tubes and seriously could not have packed one more manicotti tube into that 9×13 dish. Bake for 45-50 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for approximately 5 minutes before serving. If you did the “tear the seam” method of stuffing, be sure to use a wide, flat spatula to get up under the ripped seam. This will help the manicotti tube keep its shape as you transfer it onto a plate. Take another utensil to slide it off of the spatula all the while making sure your don’t flip the manicotti over exposing the seam (which will cause all that yummy goodness of a filling to spill out). Even though you cheated while stuffing the tubes, it still can look very pretty on your plate. I hope you enjoy your Four Cheese Manicotti (the Pack Family certainly did)!
*NOTE: I had a good amount of filling and a couple manicotti tubes left over. Those last couple manicotti tubes didn’t survive the boiling and were literally torn to shreds. I do think that there is enough filling to make 1/2 of another box of manicotti noodles. You would then need a little more spaghetti sauce. So if you are like me and don’t like wasting food, buy 2 boxes of manicotti tubes and 2 cans of spaghetti sauce. You could bake the additional manicotti tubes in a separate baking dish. Allow the additional manicotti to cool down and place it in a freezer-safe container. It should keep in the freezer for at least 6 months. Just remove from freezer, place in an oven-safe dish and heat in the oven till warmed all the way through. Bazinga! (yes, we watch Big Bang Theory regularly) You’ve just created two dishes! One for now and one for later! That calls for another Bazinga! So BAZINGA!