I like to think of manicotti as a cousin to lasagna. It’s one of my favorite pasta dishes, and it’s pretty easy to make. I’ll show you how to make manicotti at home for yourself. That way, you can make this delicious comfort food whenever you like.
What Is Manicotti?
Manicotti can refer to either a dish or a type of pasta. The pasta is tube shaped and large, and they’re usually about an inch in diameter. They can be around 4 inches long, and when they’re served, manicotti is usually stuffed with meat, cheese, seafood, or even veggies.
To make the full dish, you usually going to start with stuffed manicotti and then add sauce and cheese on top of that and bake it in the oven until the cheese melts.
Manicotti pasta can be bought in the store already made, or you can make it yourself at home, but that can take a long time. How to make manicotti shells at home using simple ingredients?
Making pasta from scratch usually requires a pasta making machine, and you have to need fresh dough, work it, and shape it until it comes out into the classic tubular manicotti shape. Homemade pasta is made from scratch with eggs, flour, and water.
How to Stuff Manicotti
There’s not really a right to a wrong way to stuff manicotti. You can do it however you want and use whatever you like. Traditionally, manicotti is stuffed with cheese or veggies for a vegetarian dish, or it can be filled all kinds of meat or seafood. You can use beef, pork, chicken, sausage, shrimp, or fish.
Some of the best foods to stuff inside manicotti are crab meat, ground beef, grilled chicken, and smoked sausage. It’s up to you to determine what you want inside of yours, based on what foods you like and whether you want to be healthy with this dish or not.
Also consider what other foods you’re serving with the manicotti and if the food you’re using to stuff the shells might clash with some of that.
How to Cook Manicotti
There are lots of different ways you can make this dish, and I want to share with you a fairly simple but delicious version pretty much anyone can make. The recipe I’m going to share with you is for spinach manicotti, and you can start with that as a base and then add your meats as you like.
- 10 manicotti
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 16 ounces of ricotta cheese
- 1 cup of chopped spinach
- 3 cups of mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 jar of marinara sauce (about 16 ounces)
- Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- As the oven is heating, it will cook your manicotti by following the directions on the packaging. That usually means boiling it in hot water. Once it’s still cooking, you should rinse it in cold water. This prevents it from sticking together.
- Mixed together 1 cup of mozzarella cheese in a bowl with your ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, the egg, and the spinach.
- Take this mixture and stuff it into the shells. You can use a piping bag for that or simply spoon or pour it in.
- Using a deep glass baking dish, pour about a cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the dish. Then, line up the manicotti side-by-side to create a single layer. Pour on the rest of the sauce as well as your remaining cheese.
- Bake your pasta in the oven for about 25 minutes, and you’ll know it’s finished when the cheese has melted and starts to bubble.
You can add to this recipe as you like, putting some meats in there, adding additional cheeses or other seasonings as you like. I prefer to serve manicotti with some garlic bread as well as steamed vegetables. If there’s no meat in the manicotti, I would usually have a meat dish on the side as well.
How Long to Bake Manicotti
Cooking times and temperatures are going to vary, particularly based on how much looking at once. Usually, 25 to 30 minutes is enough time for the manicotti dish to fully cook.
How long to cook manicotti in oven also depend on what kind of fillings you have period your meat should already be cooked before you put it in the oven, but if it hasn’t been cooked, you’ll want to give it enough time to cook all the way through.
However, I do not recommend cooking the meat in the oven while it’s inside the manicotti. I do recommend cooking it ahead of time and then stuffing in the manicotti fully cooked.
How to Cook Frozen Manicotti
You may be wondering if you can use frozen manicotti to make this dish. That’s perfectly fine, but you’re going to have to make some changes. Specifically, you’ll need to increase the cooking time, as frozen manicotti takes a lot longer to cook.
The cooking time should increase to an hour instead of the 25 to 30 minutes I recommended already. You can make the dish the same way, but you may not be able to stuff the manicotti yourself. Frozen manicotti will probably already be stuffed, but you can otherwise put together the dish just the same as the directions I gave you above.
You won’t need to cook the manicotti in water or rinse it off if it’s frozen. You can skip that part of the cooking directions from above if you are working with frozen manicotti. It should cook completely in the oven, however.
Now you understand what is cheese manicotti and what to do with it. You can make it from scratch using the directions I’ve given you above or simply warm up some manicotti you bought from the grocery. I like making it myself, since I can control the ingredients and make it taste just the way I like.