My kids love pasta! All of them…from the eldest to the youngest. I remember when Andrea was a child she said she wanted to eat pasta every day, and it was no exaggeration, she really did want that.
Since my kids love pasta so much I use that on my favor and I try to implement as many vegetables and protein as possible.This time I made Five Cheese Spinach Manicotti. They were delicious!
When I putting the filling inside of the shells I thought to myself that maybe they would be a bit dry, so in a trice I prepared some bechamel sauce to put on the bottom of the pan. Let me tell you, it was a great idea – modesty aside – this creamy sauce added a super tasty touch.
These Five Cheese Spinach Manicotti can be prepare ahead of time and freeze. Just bake them the day you want to serve them. Even though, the preparation is so simple and quick you can make them any weekday and give your family a delicious dinner in no time.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 1/ 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 1/ 2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese divided
- 1/2 cup cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 1/2 cup Manchego cheese grated
- 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 oz package frozen spinach thawed and squeezed, 10
- 8 manicotti shells cooked and drained
- 2-3 cups marinara sauce bottled or homemade
- Bechamel Sauce optional but highly recommended
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk warm
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- In a small saucepan over medium heat add the olive oil. Sauté the onion for 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Reserve.
- In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/ 2 cup mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, 1 /4 cup Parmesan cheese, Italian herbs and pepper; Mix well until smooth. Add onion mixture and spinach. I did this step with the electric mixer, it's faster, less work and the texture will be softer.
- Fill the shells with spinach and cheese mixture. Do it carefully to prevent breakage. Reserve.
- Prepare the Bechamel sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. When butter is completely melted, add the flour and mix until blended, about 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add salt, nutmeg and pepper and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick, smooth and creamy, about 5-8 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat. Reserve.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray with cooking oil a 13x9 inches baking pan. Reserve.
- Pour half the bechamel sauce in a greased pan. Place stuffed shells over sauce; cover with remaining bechamel sauce and then add the marinara sauce to your liking.
- Cover with foil and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Uncover and evenly sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for 5-10 minutes or until cheese melts.
- Let stand 5 minutes and serve.