I’ve turned into a modern-day Popeye in recent days in an effort to increase my iron intake. Lunch is usually a baby spinach salad, dinner sometimes a spinach and kale quiche. Somehow I thought that eating raw greens would produce the highest iron content and then read an article stating that cooked spinach was better in that regard. That was an exciting fact to learn because I needed to change it up a little.
Originally I was going to make a lasagna, but found manicotti shells in the pantry and I thought it would make a nice change. I’ve always failed at making manicotti but I discovered the trick to all of my past failures. It’s important to spoon your mixture into a zip-baggie, cut the tip and pipe it in order to get the perfect stuffed manicotti or shell. After all of these years…the secret is out!
When I was mixing the filling, I considered adding artichokes. My family enjoys the dip but I questioned whether it would work in stuffed manicotti, however I may give it a try the next time I make this. And I will be making this again. It was a hit! Anytime you’re out of red sauce or simply want a change from your usual baked pasta, make a bechamel sauce. It sounds so fancy, but it’s really very simple and inexpensive to make.
- 1 box manicotti shells
- 32 oz. ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 16 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3½ cups milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Boil manicotti according to package, drain and cool in chilled water
- Mix together ricotta, eggs, spinach, basil and 1 cup mozzarella in a large bowl.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter, then mix in flour, salt and slowly add milk while stirring.
- Cook sauce on medium heat until it begins to boil and thicken then remove from heat.
- Coat the bottom of a 9x12 baker with bechamel sauce.
- Pipe rictotta mixture into each side of the manicotti shell, then place on in baker.
- Continue until the baker is filled, then pour the remaining bechamel over top of the manicotti.
- Top with remaining mozzarella.
- Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, then brown the cheese under the broiler for another few minutes (watch closely so that it does not burn).