This is a long over due post, but considering I just pulled out the last pan of this delicious mancotti from the freezer to heat up for the family, I suppose now is as good a time as any to share this tasty recipe.
I found this recipe in a cookbook one of my girlfriends shared with me back in college called Crazy Plates: Low-Fat Food So Good You'll Swear Its Bad for You which is now discontinued. It has been a major winter staple for many years now. I usually only make it about twice a year, because it take a while (about 30-45 minutes) to prep and it makes so much that you have enough to freeze and breakout through out the winter. So even though its a bit of work, its tasty, low fat and does great in the freezer.
Here are the ingredients:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small pieces
1 cup each grated carrots, grated zucchini, and finely chopped mushrooms
3 tbsp minced, fresh basil or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 tbsp minced, fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 oz light cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 manicotti shells or about 20 shells
2 cups of you favorite low-fat, tomato based pasta sauce
1/2 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 oz)
To make filling:
1. Spray a large, non-stick skillet with non-stick spray. Add garlic and onions. Cook and stir over medium heat until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
2. Add chicken, increase heat to medium high, and cook until no longer pink.
3. Add carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, basil, oregano and pepper. Cook for 3 more minutes.
4. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. transfer filing to large bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes. (Added tip: after about 10 minutes stir the contents to ensure that the warm inside portion gets turned to the outside of the bowl to cool as well)
5 While filling is chilling, cook manicotti according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain well.
6. Using a teaspoon, stuff shells equally with filling. (see below)
7. Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce over the bottom of two baking dishes. Arrange 6 stuffed manacotti (or 8-10 stuffed shells) in each dish.
8. Pour remaining sauce over manicotti and sprinkle with mozzarella.
9. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Let cook for 5 minutes before serving.