Pasta/ Vegetarian

Spinach and Three Cheese Manicotti

This spinach and three cheese manicotti is perfect for Italian food loving vegetarians. The perfect comfort food this fall.

I’ve been wanting to try manicotti for awhile now, so here we go.  I love the idea of a creamy and rich spinach and three cheese ricotta stuffing served with marinara and topped with more melty cheese. Since making these lasagna roll ups, I’ve been looking for an excuse to use more ricotta cheese. And here’s the perfect recipe for it. It was delicious! The ricotta was nice and creamy and so fresh with some cheese strings from the mozzarella inside. Paired with your favorite marinara sauce, this one really spells comfort food. So for vegetarians or those just wanting to cut back on red meat, here’s an alternative for you.

This spinach and three cheese manicotti is perfect for Italian food loving vegetarians. The perfect comfort food this fall.

It’s pretty much as straightforward as it looks. I’d say this would be for intermediate cooks or at least those who have some experience piping (first timer here). Instead of trying to stuff the manicotti shells with a spoon, I took to putting it all in ziploc bag and snipping a corner off to mimic a piping bag. It worked out pretty well, even with my inexperienced hands, but might deter some new to cooking. If you’re a baker though, this should be child’s play for you.

So let’s start!

This spinach and three cheese manicotti is perfect for Italian food loving vegetarians. The perfect comfort food this fall.

I used about 10 manicotti shells for this one. The 8 oz. box I got had about 14 but with the amount of ricotta mixture I used, I only managed to overstuff  about 10 of them. I figured it’s better to overstuff 10 shells then to understuff 14 so I went with that reasoning. It sucked a little because I hate wasting but I saw no reason to open up another tub of ricotta just for four more shells.

So we start by bringing a five quart dutch oven to a boil. I added in some olive oil so the shells wouldn’t stick together. Not much is needed, just half a teaspoon or so. Cook the shells according to the package directions and be very gentle with them so they don’t tear. Some of mine tore when I transferred it from the pot to a colander to drain. The shells will also expand once it’s cooked so keep that in mind when you’re looking for a container to bake them in. A 9×13 casserole dish didn’t work for me so I ended up just baking them on a baking sheet. I also found it easier to separate and dish them out this way. In the end, it’s okay if they look messy, they will taste just as delicious. It was just a tad more stressful for me since I had to make sure they ended up looking nice for pics.

This spinach and three cheese manicotti is perfect for Italian food loving vegetarians. The perfect comfort food this fall.

Back to instructions, while the pasta is cooking, you can steam your frozen spinach according to package directions or start cooking down your fresh spinach. Either way, once they’re cooked, drain any excess liquid on a mesh strainer and use the back of a spoon to squeeze as much out as you can. You’ll want to do this so the ricotta mixture doesn’t end up watered down. So while the pasta is cooking, start mixing your ricotta filling, which doesn’t take too long at all.

Once the pasta is cooked, carefully drain it in a colander and run the shells under cold water so they don’t stick together. Tip: Once the shells are cooked, try using the plastic trays they came in to hold each one and to stop them from sticking together and flattening out! Load a one quart ziploc bag with half the ricotta mixture, seal the end and snip off a corner to act as your piping bag. I filled up the bag in batches of two because I found it unwieldy on a full bag. Squeeze in the ricotta mixture from one end while tilting the shell at a 45 degree angle so it slides down to the center. Fill up the other end until full and push both ends in gently to pack them tightly.

This spinach and three cheese manicotti is perfect for Italian food loving vegetarians. The perfect comfort food this fall.

Spread one cup of your marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish evenly. You can use store-bought marinara sauce straight from the jar if you don’t mind, or use your favorite recipe if you have one. I made a couple changes to the marinara sauce to the way I usually like it which is with a little sugar to balance out the acidity, some Worcestershire sauce and beef bouillon cubes to beef it up a little and a few Italian herbs and some red pepper flakes. Either way, go with super easy or customize it to your liking!

Arrange the stuffed ricotta shells on the baking sheet as you go until they’re all done. Top the shells with remaining marinara sauce and mozzarella and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. And that’s it!

PS: I’ve combined the amount of mozzarella cheese needed under the filling ingredients so it’s easier to make a grocery list but keep in mind that the mozzarella cheese amount there is divided. 1 cup for the filling and 1/2 a cup for topping.

Happy eating!

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This spinach and three cheese manicotti is perfect for Italian food loving vegetarians. The perfect comfort food this fall.

Spinach and Three Cheese Manicotti


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 10 manicottis

Ingredients

  • 1 box (8 oz.) manicotti shells, cooked al dente
  • 24 oz. marinara sauce

Filling:

  • 10 oz. frozen/fresh spinach, cooked and drained
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook manicotti shells and spinach according to package directions
  2. Combine spinach, ricotta cheese, egg, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste and mix well
  3. Stuff each cooked manicotti shell with filling mixture
  4. In a baking dish, spread 1 cup marinara sauce on the bottom evenly
  5. Arrange stuffed manicotti over sauce
  6. Top with remaining sauce and leftover 1/2 cup of mozzarella
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes
  8. Dish and serve hot

Nutrition per manicotti shell (1 out of 10)

This spinach and three cheese manicotti is perfect for Italian food loving vegetarians. The perfect comfort food this fall.

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Tamara
    September 21, 2015 at 8:28 PM

    Hi Farah, these look really delicious and I can’t wait to try them out. Great tip on how to fill the rolls, it would have been a mission otherwise. Tamara

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 23, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      Heya Tamara! I watched a youtube video on stuffing it with a spoon and it looked messy and timely so I decided to go the ziploc bag route. First one was tough but it gets better with practice!

    • Reply
      Shareesa
      May 17, 2016 at 4:47 PM

      You can also use large shells instead of manicotti noodles and they stuff a lot quicker/easier. I have also found that they are easier to portion for lots of people or small kids 🙂

  • Reply
    Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health
    September 22, 2015 at 7:19 AM

    i cant even…is it wrong to want this for breakfast?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 23, 2015 at 1:25 PM

      I don’t see why not. I had the leftovers for brunch!

  • Reply
    Susan
    September 22, 2015 at 8:27 AM

    Oh my gosh these look AMAZING! Only a handful of ingredients too! OK, off to grocery store for manicotti shells…thanks for the recipe!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 23, 2015 at 1:27 PM

      You’re welcome, Susan. Good luck with the cooking! And remember, you can customize your marinara sauce to your liking!

  • Reply
    Dorothy Dunton
    September 22, 2015 at 11:32 AM

    Hi Farah! I seem to be on a pasta craze lately so this is perfect! I try to get ricotta into as many dishes as I can, most recently in my mac n’ cheese. I always use a zip bag for piping fillings like devilled eggs or frosting cupcakes. Thanks for another great recipe!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 23, 2015 at 1:29 PM

      Heya Dorothy! You should be a pro at filling these up then 🙂 You’re welcome and happy eats!

  • Reply
    FoodGeekGraze
    September 22, 2015 at 11:03 PM

    i have some leftover kale that was making me think of putting together a soup or frittata or fried rice or blah, blah, blah… but… manicotti pushed those guys to the back of the line. lovely timing, farah. thank you hugs.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 23, 2015 at 1:32 PM

      It worked out perfectly! I was supposed to post this on Sat, then Sunday but got too busy. Ended up on Monday which lined up great with Meatless Monday, only I didn’t realize it did until someone pointed it out. Hope the kale works well with this!

  • Reply
    Sally
    October 12, 2015 at 9:33 PM

    Miss your posts!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 15, 2015 at 8:57 PM

      Awww, thanks Sally! It’s really nice hearing that!!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Heather Mason
    December 8, 2015 at 5:46 PM

    yummy! I love manicotti! It was a childhood favorite and now I always for get to make it! Thanks for reminding me 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 14, 2015 at 2:54 PM

      You’re welcome, Heather. Happy eating!

  • Reply
    Rachel @LittleChefBigAppetite
    December 8, 2015 at 7:29 PM

    Oh my gosh, this is mouth watering!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 14, 2015 at 2:55 PM

      They were yummy! Thanks, Rachel.

  • Reply
    Michelle Asturias
    February 1, 2016 at 10:33 PM

    thank you so much for this recipe. I made this tonight for dinner and my family loved it! recipe was easy to follow. I will definitely be making this again.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      February 8, 2016 at 5:54 PM

      I’m glad you liked it, Michelle. I hope the tips helped with the stuffing part. Thanks so much for trying this out!

  • Reply
    Ana
    February 10, 2016 at 10:56 PM

    I was hunting around for a different filling for my manicotti and ended up here! I’ve made manicotti for years, so just another tip for filling – don’t cook your manicotti shells before stuffing them. The are very easy to stuff with a fork or I use an ice tea spoon. Just bake a little hotter and a little longer and they cook perfectly in the sauce. I do 400 degrees for 45 minutes. No broken shells! Thank you for your recipe. 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      February 16, 2016 at 2:20 PM

      I’ll have to try this out next time. Hopefully this tip will work for others if they decide to try this method. Thanks for chiming in, Ana 🙂

  • Reply
    vivian
    April 10, 2016 at 8:35 PM

    Made these for Sunday dinner tonight and they were delicious! I use my fingers (best kitchen tools) to stuff them and it works great. Served with garlic bread and a green salad with lemony dressing, they were a wonderful meal. Thanks!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 13, 2016 at 4:46 PM

      Props to you for using your fingers! And garlic bread….one of my weaknesses. I can practically taste it now just reading this comment. Crispy, buttery and hot. YUM! You are welcome and I’m happy to have helped your Sunday dinner!

  • Reply
    Val
    May 4, 2016 at 9:28 PM

    When I made this the center wasn’t even warm definitely took longer and a higher temperature very disappointing

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      May 11, 2016 at 2:01 PM

      Sorry to hear that, Val. Oven temperatures may vary, so it’s a good thing you adjusted accordingly.

  • Reply
    Dawn
    May 25, 2016 at 6:12 PM

    Love this recipe!! I did use the bag bet hold of filling the manicotti for the first time. It was a little less messy and a whole lot quicker! Thanks for the tip, will be using manicotti noodles more often!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      June 8, 2016 at 2:22 PM

      Happy to hear the tip worked for you, Dawn!

  • Reply
    Valérie
    June 13, 2016 at 2:46 AM

    Hi Farah,
    I woke up this morning and this is the 1st recipe I saw on my wall, … and I want it right now 😀
    Will definitely do it this week!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      June 23, 2016 at 2:06 PM

      Heya Valerie! How did it turn out? Hope you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Susan Taylor
    November 14, 2016 at 5:08 PM

    This is fantastic. I did not have a piping bag and i had run out of ziplock bags. The spoon method was quite messy and the manicotti tubes were ripping so on the 4th one, i decided to roll the mixture up and slid into the noodle. It worked and the rolls didn’t rip. I also added some fresh garlic to the mixture and it was very tasty. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      December 7, 2016 at 3:27 PM

      Wow, that’s a new hack I haven’t heard of before! It sounds like to it took a lot of patience and finesse so kudos to you on persevering!

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