It had been years since I made a good batch of manicotti! I have to admit, I originally wanted to make stuffed shells.... but man, oh man, in those years things have certainly changed. "Jumbo shells" have shrunk over the years, I mean really shrunk, I wouldn't actually consider them Jumbo by any stretch of the imagination.
So, I opted for manicotti. With all the work it takes to fill the pasta, putting a spoonful of filling into what was now going to be a significant amount of shells was going to be way too tedious for me. Finding manicotti took a visit to more than one grocery store....but in the end, it was all worth it.
10 Manicotti tubes (1 box = 14)
15 oz. Ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 tsps. Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups Marinara sause, divided (I used Rao)
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 1 ½ cups marinara sauce in an even layer in the bottom of a 9x13 pan.
Place the ricotta, 1½ cups of the mozarella, Italian seasoning, egg, salt, pepper and parmesan in a bowl. Stir to combine.
Cook manicotti to Al Dente (since they will continue to cook in the oven) and rinse with cold water. Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.
Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the top, then top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.
Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover the pan, then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown.
Sprinkle with parsley, then serve.
NOTES: I browned a pound of ground Italian sausage and sprinkled that over the top of the manicotti, prior to topping with the cheese.....It added another depth of flavor to the dish that my guests and I really enjoyed.