This is so delightful. It’s my go-to whenever I’m ordering in a restaurant, so I was very excited when I made it at home for the first time. It’s quite easy as well!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1 16 oz container cottage cheese
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided 1 cup for filling 1 cup for top
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 T Italian seasoning
1 t seasoning salt
3 lg cloves garlic
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
You will also need
1 1/2 pkg manicotti pasta (tubes), uncooked
2 jars spaghetti sauce (I use 26 oz Kroger Homestyle Tomato with Basil)
1/4 cup water
Pour a little of the sauce (1/4 of jar) into a large greased baking dish (I use 3 qt.), let it coat the bottom, and place the filled pasta on top.
Combine all ingredients for the filling. Put into gallon ziplock bag and cut one corner off (start very small). Fill each tube of pasta. You may want to put filling in both ends so that it gets really full. Cover with remainder of sauce. Put the water in the jar and shake to get out the last of the sauce. Make sure all pasta is covered .
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes. Top with 1 cup mozzarella, recover, and bake for 10 minutes. (Yes, it takes the whole time. Be patient. Also, it is VERY HOT when it comes out of the oven, so be careful when eating.)
I made the batch half with and half without spinach for Mr. J and used half the package of spinach. If you do the whole batch with spinach you can use the whole package.
So freaking good…you don’t even know.
Notes: The deal with the really large baking dish and extra pasta and sauce requirements is due to the fact that the filling is more than will fill one box of pasta. You can make less and only use one box, but with the egg in the filling, it’ll need to be used for something else right away. I have layered it with rotini, sauce, and cheese for a baked pasta in another format. This makes a ton, but I like it.
You can also use large shells. Cook them for a little while so that you can get the filling inside easier, but not too long or they’ll be hard to handle. Cook for approx. half of the recommended cooking time, drain, toss with olive oil (so they don’t stick together), and let them cool slightly (or they will burn you).