I believe I would starve to death if I was forced to eat a 'fancy' food. You know the kind? A tiny piece of meat on a plate decorated with some partially cooked vegetable with some unknown sauce drizzled over the top to make it look pretty.
I don't have to have my plate heaping with food like a starving lumberjack, far from it. But whatever is on my plate I would like to be both tasty and filling so I'm not fantasizing about raiding the fridge 20 minutes after dinner.
Manicotti is not only easy and substantial, it's pretty! When it is all done and the sauce is poured on top and it's sitting on our plates I feel like a culinary genius! Then when I tasted it I decided I like it better than lasagna and I LOVE lasagna. Please try this recipe!
If you're cooking for only 2-3 people this is also a very economical meal. The recipe tonight is for 3 people. 2 manicotti each for the girls and 3 for the guy.
1/2 box Manicotti (7 pieces cooked according to package directions)
2 cans tomato sauce
1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
(or a large can of spaghetti sauce if you want to make it really easy)
1 - 15 ounce container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
After the manicotti has cooked, rinse it under cold water and lay on waxed paper so they don't stick.
While the manicotti is cooking you can make your sauce:
Brown the ground beef and onion in small saucepan.
Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer while you are preparing everything else.
For the filling, just mix everything together in a small bowl. (See how easy this is?)
Spread a small amount of the sauce on the bottom of a small oblong baking dish (8"x11".)
I cheated on this part and used a large decorating tip and disposable decorator bag to fill the manicotti. If you don't have cake decorating supplies just cut the corner (about 3/4") off from a zipper type bag. Fill the bag with the filling. (Don't tell the cake decorating industry how easy it is to cheat.)
Pour the remaining sauce over the manicotti. Cover with foil. Depending on when you want to eat the manicotti you can now freeze it, place it in the fridge or bake it at 350F for 35 minutes.
After it has baked for 35 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top. (Use as much or as little as you prefer.) Return to oven and bake 10 more minutes until cheese has melted and begins to brown. (Note from Mikey : "There is no such thing as too much cheese")
If you choose to freeze the manicotti cover with plastic wrap first, then foil. When you're ready to cook it carefully remove foil. Take plastic wrap off and replace foil. Bake at 350F for 2 hours.
For refrigerated manicotti bake 10-15 minutes longer. Use within 24 hours or freeze up to two months.
I had plenty of sauce and used all of it to cover the manicotti. This caused the manicotti to flatten and if you prefer a fuller manicotti don't use as much sauce.
You could easily add mushrooms or peppers to the sauce. I just wanted to keep it simple and basic. Let me know if you try it and if you do anything different.