Italian Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

Manicotti

     Yesterday, you saw us make a Simple Tomato Sauce. Today, we are going to show you what we did with it. We made these lovely stuffed manicotti! Filled with Homemade Hot Italian Sausage (Yep! We made our own, but you can easily use store bought. Speaking of, this was the last of it, time to make more.), chopped spinach and creamy ricotta cheese. Can you imagine what our house was smelling like? Just what I had been craving, but have never made before. But why let something like that stop ya?

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 16 oz Italian sausage, hot or mild
  • 1 (10 oz) box of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed out
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese (we used light ricotta)
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • slat and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 package of manicotti
  • 1 batch of Simple Tomato Sauce 
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese (to top if desired)

Directions

  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion until fragrant

    Browning Italian sausage

  • Add the Italian sausage and brown it, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula. Drain the excess fat and set aside to cool

    Making the filling

  • Mix together the Italian sausage and onions along with the drained chopped spinach, ricotta,  1 1/2 cups of Parmesan and eggs in a large bowl.
  • Cook the manicotti shells in a large pot of salted boiling water according to directions. Drain and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet to allow to cool
  • Preheat the oven to 400F with the oven rack in the center

    Spread sauce evenly on bottom of baking dish

  • In a 9 x 13″ baking dish, spread two cups of the simple tomato sauce

    Zip-lock bags work great to “stuff” things

  • Stuff the manicotti with the filling. I found it easier to fill a zip lock bag with the mixture, cut an end off and squeeze it into the manicotti. A pastry bag would also work if you have one of those handy.

    Place the filled manicotti in a single layer in the baking dish

  • Arrange the manicotti in a single layer in the baking dish. We had room for 13 and did not use all the shells (I think there were 16, but some of them ripped anyway, so we tossed ‘em)

    Top with remaining sauce

  • Spoon the remaining simple tomato sauce on top evenly and then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup grate Parmesan on top. In addition, we also sprinkled on some shredded Parmesan cheese at this point. I’m sure you could use some mozzarella or any other cheese desired.

    Top with cheese

  • Bake the manicotti for 20 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with more fresh basil as garnish if desired.

    Hot outta the oven

     This was exactly what I was craving! Kinda impressed myself a bit. Tomatoey, garlicky, cheesey goodness in each bite (if those aren’t real words, they should be). And the home made hot Italian sausage really topped it off, just a bit of heat to play off all the other flavors. If you don’ t like heat, regular Italian sausage would work just as well. Served up with some garlic bread and what a meal you have!

Plated up

     I will say this meal was a bit of work. You might want to save it for the weekend if you get home late from work. This isn’t something you can come in the door at 6 and expect to have on the table by 7. In fact, I think I started at 4:30 and it was done right before 7 (although there might have been a glass of wine of two slipped in there somewhere  ;) ).  But man was it worth it! Hope you enjoy. Ciao!

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13 thoughts on “Italian Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

  1. This. looks. DIVINE!

    I absolutely adore manicotti but I never seem to steer from my plain ol’ cheese recipe. Now I have no excuse!

  2. I just went back and read your post on making sausage. (I cannot find a way around double entendres when talking about BBQ. I blame the guys.) Anyway, we have made sausage before but never done the casings/links thing. I think the hubby is on board. BTW — this dish looks super yum!

    • That woul,d work. As the wife and I were stuffing the manicotti we actually brought that up and decided next time to go with large shells. Would be a lot easier to stuff.

  3. Oh wow. These pictures reeeeally make me wish they were edible right now. *cue drooling* Definitely bookmarking this recipe for later! Thanks for sharing it. :D

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