*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
**Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.
(-)Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.
After reading ALL the reviews I consolidated the good advice into the following: used small curd cottage cheese; upped the garlic powder to 1 full tsp.; added one package frozen chopped spinach (thawed, liquid squeezed out); added 2-3 tbs. fresh parsley and same amount of FRESH basil; added a healthy grind of black pepper; blended filling in the Cuisinart; used plenty of spaghetti sauce; added extra mozzarella on top. Baked 20 minutes covered to keep from drying out and 20 minutes uncovered to brown. Served with green Tabasco at the table for those who wanted more zip - it was awesome. My die-hard carnivore of a husband liked it a lot but would welcome hamburger or sausage added to the filling or spaghetti sauce. My vegetarian daughters were deliriously happy. I'm great either way. Will definitely make again. In fact, I will make some to freeze for those hectic nights. Real yummy. Oh... one more thing... as recommended by others I boiled the shells 2.5 minutes less than directed, plunged into cold water and let dry. They were easy to handle and didn't tear. I didn't try piping filling in from a Ziploc but it sounds good. **************** U P D A T E ************ Made again and piped from a gallon size Ziploc bag. Loved it, loved it! The whole recipe of filling was too cumbersome to handle in the bag, about 1/3 at a time worked best for me. A hole about the size of a dime works great. Too small a hole is hard work, too large is hard to control.
So. I don't like cottage cheese but wanted to give this a chance, so I made half the shells with ricotta instead, in case we didnt like the cottage cheese ones. Oh and I used small curds (in the snack packs) instead, cause I thought the large ones might be gross! It turned out after eating the cottage cheese ones, I couldn't go back to the plain ricotta ones! The cottage cheese ones were so much richer and had good texture, I start thinking about the leftovers at like 10:30, when lunch is at 12, and cant wait until that time to eat them. We had extra filling left over, and some extra manicotti shells; it made a really good manicotti filling too. The only suggestion I would make is to season the filling a little bit with Italian seasoning, but other than that this dish is EXCELLENT. *Update* I've now added one box of defrosted frozen spinach (rinsed and squeezed dry) and about half a pound of cooked ground sausage, and it's so delicious. It makes this really hearty and works well if you have a needs-meat significant other like I do. Otherwise I would still do the spinach for some added vitamins without the meat. The large curd cottage cheese I found out is big and soft and not small and grainy like the small curds, and the texture is unnoticeable especially if you have spinach and sausage in there, so that's only what I use now!
I have not made this yet...but plan on doing so this week sometime! I just wanted to share this tip that I use with EVERY lasagna & manicotti recipe. I have never pre-cooked the noodles. Make everything up the night before, pour about 1/2 cup of water over the whole thing, cover with foil, and refrigerate till supper the next night. The shells cook in the extra water and sauce, and its not the least bit runny! No worrying about tearing the shells again!
Awesome filling. I whiz the whole mixture in my food processor to get a great texture. To fill the shells easily scoop all of the filling mixture into a zipper bag. Just snip the tip off one corner of the bag and squeeze the mixture out of the hole into the shells. Much tidier!
Easy and tasty. I made some adjustments for my picky husband's (and mine too) tastes. I used Ricotta instead of cottage cheese, added some garlic to the cheese mixture and some ground beef to the sauce. I used a jarred Arribata (spelling?) sauce which went well with it. It could have used more sauce we thought, maybe a jar and a half. Hubby requested that this be added to the regular rotation, always a sign of approval.
This is an absolutely wonderful dish and it freezes pretty well. Stuffing the shells is the biggest challenge.....I think next time I'll put the filling into a ziplock bag and cut the corner off and fill them pastry bag-style.
I have been making this recipe for decades, but I always add chopped spinach to the filling. I thaw and drain it before adding. I figure that this addition makes me think that I'm eating something healthy!
Thanks for all the great reviews. When I posted this recipe in 2001 had no idea it would be so versitile. Love the idea of chopped spinach in the filling. Can't wait to try that myself. Like I said in my Italian Sausage Soup review, I am a lazy wannabe Italian and come up with the easiest way to make a good recipe. Glad you all enjoy this one too. Thanks again for the wonderful reviews. Karen M