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Why on earth have I never eaten or made manicotti before??? Somehow I made it through 49 years without encountering this delicious food! I was thinking about what to make for dinner the other night. I try and think of what I’ve made the few previous days and make something different. I run through the various meats in my head (Chicken? Beef? Pork?) and I run through flavor profiles (Mexican? Italian? Spicy? Creamy?). So the other day I was stumbling on the meat. Nothing sounded good, so I decided it was time to make a vegetarian entrée. My friend Michael had mentioned manicotti in a Facebook post and I had my inspiration! Manicotti it is!!!

Even though I’d never eaten it before, I had a vision in my mind of what it would be; a nice big pasta tube stuffed with cheesy goodness! I picked up some ready-made Barilla pasta at the store and the recipe on the back of the package actually looked pretty good, so I decided to go with it. It did not disappoint! The ricotta, spinach and mushroom stuffing was creamy and wonderful. OK, I’ll admit it! I did lick the bowl that I mixed the filling in.

I topped my stuffed manicotti with my homemade marinara sauce (See August 11, 2015 blog post for recipe). I don’t mean to brag, but I LOVE my sauce! It’s so delicious!

Since I decided to leave any meat out of this recipe and chose low-fat ricotta, this was a pretty low-fat meal. But don’t let this fool you! This was still a very hearty and satisfying meal and it was easier to make that I expected. I will definitely be making this again in the future!

Stuffed Manicotti with Spinach and Mushrooms

1 box manicotti (14 pasta tubes)

1 batch homemade marinara or 1 jar ready-made

1 clove garlic, chopped or pressed

12 oz Ricotta cheese

12 oz mushrooms, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

12 oz fresh spinach

1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook manicotti in salted boiling water for 7 minutes, drain and set aside to cool. Spray sauté pan with non-stick spray. Over medium heat sauté garlic until tender, add mushrooms, add salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender. Steam the spinach and chop well. Mix ricotta, egg, mushrooms, spinach and half the parmesan. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the filling into the manicotti tubes. In a 9 x 13 inch greased baking dish, place ½ the marinara sauce, arrange the manicotti on top and cover with remaining marinara and parmesan cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.