Four Cheese Spinach Manicotti

I love pasta. It’s so carby and delicious. One of my absolute favorites is manicotti. Manicotti are  just big empty pasta tubes that you fill up with good stuff. Imagine the possibilities! I can think of a hundred delicious things to stuff inside of pasta!

This time around I went with four cheeses, because cheese is my friend. I also added some spinach, because it’s still January and therefore I’m pretending to be healthy. If you wait to make this until February, feel free to leave the spinach out. I won’t judge you.

Honestly, though, spinach is kinda good. My kids even eat it! Especially when it’s covered in cheese and hidden inside of pasta.

I used a homemade marinara here, but feel free to use jarred sauce if you’re feeling lazy, just be sure to use a good one. The spinach and cheese is creamy and mild flavored, so you’ll want a good burst of flavor in your sauce.

Four Cheese Spinach Manicotti

Ingredients

    For the manicotti:
  • 8 ounces of Manicotti
  • 16 ounces Ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 3 ounces Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped fresh baby Spinach, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Basic Marinara Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Half of a medium onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 3 - 15 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped oregano
  • dash of sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

    For the manicotti:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the manicotti and cook for 7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Set aside the pasta to cool and begin making the filling.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the Ricotta cheese, 3 ounces of Mozzarella, 3 ounces of Monterey Jack, and all of the Parmigiana-Reggiano. Mix in the sour cream, bread crumbs, and spinach. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When the pasta is cool enough to handle, use a small spoon to scoop the filling into the pasta. You can also pipe it in, but I find a spoon is the easiest and quickest way for me. If you break any of the noodles, just fill them anyway and roll them back up.
  5. Cover the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with a thin layer of marinara sauce. Arrange your pasta in the baking dish. Cover with the remaining marinara sauce (you don't have to use all of the sauce if you like things less saucy.) Top with the remaining cheese and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to browned on top.
  6. For the sauce:
  7. Dice the onion and garlic very fine (or process it until it forms a paste in a food processor, if you're family is anything like mine and dies at the sight of an onion).
  8. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
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