Cheese-Stuffed Manicotti

What do you think of when you think of comfort food? For me it is either 1000% chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes or anything pasta and absolutely slathered in cheese.

This cheese-stuffed manicotti is the epitome of my comfort food. I am a self-proclaimed carb queen and a cheese lover extraordinaire.

Made with a homemade sauce and stuffed with ricotta, this manicotti dish is easy enough for a weeknight dinner, but could also serve as a fancy plate for wowing guests.

DSC_0931

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 8-ounces manicotti pasta

Filling

  • 20-ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Topping

  • 1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. SAUCE: Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté diced onions, carrots, and garlic until the onions begin to become translucent and begin to soften. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, sugar, and salt.
  2. Stir well, cover with a lid, but leave a crack for steam to escape. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil, stir, and cook for another 20 minutes.
  3. Take out bay leaves and discard. Blend sauce in blender until smooth.
  4. SHELLS: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Cook pasta in salted boiling water for 6 minutes. Drain off the water and set pasta shells aside on a clean cutting board to cool down.
  5. FILLING: While the pasta is cooking, combine all ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl and stir until completely mixed. Transfer prepared filling into a large piping bag or plastic resealable bag.
  6. Hold manicotti shell in one hand and squeeze the filling into it from the bag, filling it until almost full. Don’t overfill or it will come out while baking.
  7. ASSEMBLY: Preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread about 1-1/2 cups of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
  8. Nestle stuffed manicotti in the sauce. Spread more of the marinara over the top of the manicotti, then sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the top.
  9. Spray one side of a sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray and place sprayed side down. Cover the baking dish with the foil.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes. Take the foil off of the pan and then bake for another 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cheese-stuffed Manicotti

In a Dutch oven in olive oil, sauté onion, carrots, and garlic until the onions are starting to soften.

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Add in the crushed tomatoes, oregano, sugar, salt, and bay leaves. Simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.

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Meanwhile, cook the pasta and make the filling.

For the filling, stir together the ricotta cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, egg, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and black pepper.

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Place the filling inside a piping bag and set aside.

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After the 20 minutes of the sauce cooking, remove the lid, and add in the fresh minced basil. Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes more.

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Once the pasta is done cooking, let them cool on a cutting board.

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Once the sauce has simmered, blend the marinara until completely smooth.

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Dump about 1-1/2 cups of the marinara in a baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

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Fill all of the manicotti tubes most of the way with the cheese filling.

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Place the filled manicotti in the prepared baking dish.

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Cover the pasta tubes with marinara.

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Then cover the top with more mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Cover the top of the baking dish with foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

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Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes with the foil on and 10 minutes with the foil off.

Serve immediately!

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So so good!

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Ingredients

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 8-ounces manicotti pasta

Filling

  • 20-ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Topping

  • 1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. SAUCE: Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté diced onions, carrots, and garlic until the onions begin to become translucent and begin to soften. Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, oregano, sugar, and salt.
  2. Stir well, cover with a lid, but leave a crack for steam to escape. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add basil, stir, and cook for another 20 minutes.
  3. Take out bay leaves and discard. Blend sauce in blender until smooth.
  4. SHELLS: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Cook pasta in salted boiling water for 6 minutes. Drain off the water and set pasta shells aside on a clean cutting board to cool down.
  5. FILLING: While the pasta is cooking, combine all ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl and stir until completely mixed. Transfer prepared filling into a large piping bag or plastic resealable bag.
  6. Hold manicotti shell in one hand and squeeze the filling into it from the bag, filling it until almost full. Don’t overfill or it will come out while baking.
  7. ASSEMBLY: Preheat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread about 1-1/2 cups of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.
  8. Nestle stuffed manicotti in the sauce. Spread more of the marinara over the top of the manicotti, then sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the top.
  9. Spray one side of a sheet of foil with non-stick cooking spray and place sprayed side down. Cover the baking dish with the foil.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes. Take the foil off of the pan and then bake for another 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

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