This Italian Cheese Manicotti Recipe is so simple to make and it looks super sophisticated. It is one of our family favorites. This manicotti is vegetarian and full of flavor!
Something about pasta just really gets me excited. I specifically love a big heaping bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, but recipes like this Italian Manicotti get the job done too. These manicotti shells are stuffed with a ricotta and mozzarella mixture that is absolutely delightful!
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
- It's fancy, yet easy to make and will impress the family and guests.
- The recipe from start to finish takes less than an hour. If you want to save time and mess later on in the evening, you can prep it earlier in the day, and just stick it in the oven before serving.
- It's vegetarian, but filling enough to where you don't feel like you are missing the meat.
- It's stuffed with cheese. I mean, seriously, isn't just that enough?
If you have spare time, be sure to make my marinara sauce for this recipe. It is an amazing sauce that doesn't take long at all to prep. It makes a nice size batch, and you may even have a little leftover to stick in the fridge, when you need some marinara in a pinch.
Don't have the extra time? Don't sweat it. A jar of marinara from the store is totally fine for this recipe.
Marinara Sauce: The perfect acidity to lather over these marvelous cheese filled shells. I recommend my quick marinara sauce, if you have the time.
Ricotta and Mozzarella Cheeses: The ricotta binds with the mozzarella to create the perfect texture when slicing into.
Parmigiano Reggiano: A strong nutty flavor for topping our dish.
Egg: To further bind our filling.
Spices: Traditional Italian spices of basil and oregano along with salt and pepper for classic flavor.
Manicotti Pasta: Cooked al dente, these pasta shells are the perfect choice for our filling.
How to Make Italian Cheese Manicotti:
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Start by boiling a large pot of water. Add in a tablespoon of olive oil and salt to ensure the shells don't stick together when boiling. Gently place in the manicotti shells and cook al dente using the time on the package. My pasta took 8 minutes. Strain and set aside.
Prepare the filling in a large bowl by whisking the egg, then add in the mozzarella, ricotta, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Stir this together until incorporated.
Transfer the mixture into a gallon sized ziplock bag and clip the corner (see video) or use a piping bag.
Pour a ladle full of marinara sauce into the casserole dish.
Take a manicotti shell and fill one half with filling and flip over and fill the other. It is completely ok if it has a little gap of no filling in the very center. Once the cheese melts in the oven, it will not be noticeable.
Fill all the shells and place in the casserole dish. Mine only fit about 10 manicotti shells.
Cover the manicotti shells with 2 ladle fulls of marinara sauce. I like to save a bit of sauce to heat up on the side too.
Top the sauce with the parmesan, pecorino or more mozzarella cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Pull the foil off and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Once it is finished, top with fresh basil or parsley and serve with a nice loaf of french bread or try my garlic cheesy bread. It is decadent.
Cook according to the package, but the lesser number to ensure they are al dente. My package said 8-10 minutes, and I pulled them out at 8 minutes and immediately strained the shells.
It is when the pasta still tastes firm to the bite.
It takes 20 to 25 minutes to bake completely. I like to cover my manicotti with foil for the first 10 minutes to make sure it doesn't dry the sauce out.
Sure thing! After prepping, cover in plastic wrap, then tin foil and store in the freezer for 3 months. When you are ready to eat, let it thaw for an hour before baking. You will need to increase baking time to 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure to save some extra marinara to serve on the side, because it will be less saucy than when we serve it fresh.
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