Sometimes my mind works in very strange ways. Take Rome and the Vatican for example. We eat a lot of Italian inspired suppers during Lent because meatless pastas are so darn easy, their seafood dishes are swimming in awesomeness and everything is super delicious. So, is the Vatican in the heart of Rome for the food, or is Italian meatless dishes so doggone good because of all those Catholic Cooks in Italy? I know, it’s a silly thought. The Vatican’s location has nothing to do with the food, but just maybe all those Catholics puttering about in the kitchen has something to do with the food. Just saying . . .
Anyway, a while back I made a Spinach Lasagna for our Friday supper. I knew Hubby would greet the dish wish lukewarm enthusiasm. He is not a fan of spinach anything. To him, spinach should be an after thought and not the main attraction. I thought Kiddo would excuse himself completely. Much to my surprise, he loved it. I’m glad because I adore the combination of spinach and Ricotta together.
10 oz Chopped Spinach, thawed
1 box uncooked Manicotti Shells (14 shells)
2 Garlic Cloves
2 cups Italian Cheese blend
1/4 teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
15 oz Ricotta Cheese
25 oz good quality Pasta Sauce, without meat
Let spinach thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Drain well and squeeze out any remaining liquid. Place in a bowl, break apart any lumps of leaves with a fork. Set aside.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook Manicotti as directed on box. Rinse with cool water; drain well.
While the pasta is cooking, peel and finely chop the garlic cloves. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Set aside.
In medium bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups of the Italian cheese blend, the red pepper, ricotta cheese, spinach, garlic and egg.
In bottom of ungreased 13-inch by 9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish, spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce and set aside.
Spoon or pipe ricotta mixture into Manicotti. The shells will be easier to fill if you start at the center, filling one side, then the other. Place filled shells over sauce in dish. Pour remaining sauce down the center over the Manicotti.
Cover tightly with foil; bake about 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbling.
Uncover dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Italian cheese blend. Bake uncovered 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.