Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active).
· 8-ounce package manicotti pasta
· 10-ounce bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed
· 2 eggs, beaten
· 2 cups ricotta cheese
· 1½ cups grated mozzarella cheese
· 1 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt (try without this; we found the filling to be too soft)
· 1 teaspoon garlic powder
· 1 teaspoon dried oregano
· 1 teaspoon dried basil (2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning instead of the oregano & basil)
· Two 7-ounce packages prepared pesto
· ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
some red-pepper flakes might be in order
Heat the oven to 400. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (or multiple smaller dishes) with cooking spray.
Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Add the manicotti,
and cook according to package directions. Drain, and arrange them on a
kitchen towel so they don't touch. Set aside. (try
filling shells without pre-cooking, or only cooking them for half the
time on the package directions- if you do, allow for longer cooking
Meanwhile, place the spinach at the center of a kitchen towel, wrap the
towel around it and squeeze tightly over the sink to remove excess
water. Continue squeezing until no more water runs out. Unwrap the
spinach, and coarsely chop.
In a large bowl, combine the spinach, eggs, ricotta, mozzarella,
yogurt, garlic powder, oregano and basil. Transfer the cheese mixture
to a zip-close plastic bag, squeeze out the air and seal. Set aside.
Spread 1 package of the pesto in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Snip off one corner of the bag of cheese mixture. Holding a manicotti
tube in one hand and the bag in the other, insert the tip of the bag
into the pasta tube and squeeze gently to fill it. You may need to fill
from both ends of the tube.
As each tube is filled, arrange tubes in a single layer in the prepared
baking dish. When all the tubes are filled, spoon the remaining package
of pesto over them. Cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes.
Uncover the pan, and sprinkle the manicotti with Parmesan. Bake,
uncovered, for another 15 minutes, or until the Parmesan is melted and
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest
whole number): 791 calories (438 calories from fat), 49 grams fat (18
grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats), 160 milligrams cholesterol, 45
grams carbohydrate, 45 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 1,122 milligrams
Courier Journal 1April09