Friday, May 27, 2011

Getting Ready for Shavuot: Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti D Yield: 14 Manicotti
The oozing together of spinach and mozzarella wrapped in a manicotti shell covered in tomato sauce and parmesan is perfect.
Prep time: 30 min.  Baking time: 30 min.
1 box manicotti (14 shells)
20 ounces frozen spinach-defrosted and squeezed dry
1 bunch scallions
2 large cloves garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound whole milk mozzarella-diced
2-3 cups tomato sauce (homemade/bottled)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Olive oil spray /1 tablespoon olive oil for greasing casserole
Large pot
Slotted spoon
Oven to table casserole-large enough to hold manicotti in a single layer
Medium skillet
  1. Boil manicotti according to package directions. Using a slotted spoon, lift each manicotti out of the pot separately and let it rest on a piece of waxed /parchment paper so that it won’t stick. Do not rinse manicotti. Set them aside.
  2. Wash scallions. Discard root ends. Cut white and pale green parts thinly. Set aside.
  3. Peel and mince garlic.
  4. Heat oil in skillet over medium flame. Add scallions and garlic and sauté until soft. Add spinach and mix well. Stir over medium heat until any remaining moisture has evaporated from spinach. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Remove from heat. Add diced mozzarella to skillet and stir until mixed thoroughly. The cheese will melt slightly. Cool mixture until you can touch it with your hands.
  5. Spray olive oil (or brush with olive oil) on the bottom of casserole. Pour in one cup of tomato sauce.
  6. Preheat oven to: 350 F.
  7. Resist the temptation to fill the manicotti with a small utensil of any kind. I’ve tried them all. The most efficient way to do it is with your hands.  Holding the manicotti gently with one hand, stuff the spinach mixture into it with the other hand until the manicotti is filled and nothing is emerging from either side. Don’t worry if some of the manicotti are partially broken. They can still be stuffed. Just put broken side facing the inside of the casserole so it won’t burn. Place each stuffed manicotti in casserole in a single layer. If you have to layer them, make sure to put some tomato sauce in between manicotti so that they don’t stick together.
  8. Pour remaining cup (or more if you prefer) of tomato sauce over manicotti. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese has browned. Sprinkle with chopped parsley right before serving.

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