Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti

September 13, 2012 · 9 comments

in pasta

I’ve mentioned a few times since starting my new(ish) job that I’m a big fan of make-ahead meals. Trying to cook during the week is hard enough as it is, but when you get home later than you’d like and have a toddler who starts getting ready for bed by 7:30, it becomes much more difficult.

There are few things that work better for make-ahead meals than baked pasta dishes. Generally, baked pasta dishes aren’t that difficult to make, but because they tend to have a few components, they can take some time. They’re usually not meant for a weeknight – or, at least, they can’t be a part of my weeknight meal repertoire – unless I’ve assembled them the day before.

This cannelloni/manicotti is a great make ahead meal. You can just assemble it and keep it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. The most time-consuming part of this for me was waiting for a large pot of water to boil. Is it just me (and my stovetop) or do you feel like you spend half your life waiting for water to boil?!

Anyway, I browned the sausage while the pasta was cooking, and then just added it to the rest of the filling. I did spread the manicotti noodles out on a lightly greased baking dish as I mixed the filling (and as I stuffed each piece) to make sure they didn’t get stuck together or tear.

I used manicotti noodles but you can use cannelloni or jumbo shells. Or, you can even just mix everything up with your favorite short pasta if you don’t feel like stuffing pasta. I used turkey sausage and part skim ricotta and mozzarella to keep this a bit lighter.

When I pre-make a meal like this, I don’t even bother preheating the oven. I actually think it works a little better, particularly if you’re going from fridge to oven, for the baking dish to warm up slowly, anyway.

Do you have any favorite make-ahead recipes?

Here are a few of our favorite make-ahead and crockpot meals:

Quinoa and Chicken Parmesan
Chicken, Mushroom, and Wild Rice Casserole
Short Ribs in Chipotle and Green Chile Sauce
Baked Burritos with Sour Cream-Poblano Sauce
Baked Ziti
Pasta with Chicken-Mushroom Ragout
Slowcooker Asian Pork (also great with chicken thighs or beef)
Slowcooker Smoky Pork Tinga Tacos with Avocado and Cheese
Slowcooker Mexican Shredded Beef for Tacos/Burritos
Slowcooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

 


This post is made possible by BlogHer’s Make Ahead Meals editorial series, made possible by Bank of America.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg September 13, 2012 at 11:22 am

I generally don’t bother boiling pasta for baked pastas: I add extra water to the sauce (I probably use about half the water as I do the sauce [for example: 2 cups sauce diluted with 1 cup water], but you’ll figure it out.)

The things stuff easier and, particularly if you’re going to refrigerate them over night or so, the pasta will soften. Especially good for lasagna. Regular lasagna noodles (don’t even bother with the no-boil kinds, although I love them too) work just fine.

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Lynsey September 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

I love make ahead meals and I’m always looking for more options to add to my rotation. This sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it!

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Joanne September 14, 2012 at 6:09 am

I tend to make most things ahead but that’s really just because I don’t tend to mind eating anything cold! Baked pasta dishes are definitely high on my list though. Always so comforting!

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sunidhi September 16, 2012 at 5:08 am

Hi, It looks yummy and mouthwatering.i tried this at home , my family and lid loved it. Thanks for this good posting.Your description is very nice any one can follow easily.
All the best keep posting……….

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Alicia September 17, 2012 at 7:53 pm

My husband does not like ricotta cheese. Could you substitute with cottage cheese? If so, how much do you suggest?

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elly September 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Alicia, I would just use the same amount as you would ricotta.

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Kris September 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Very good recipe. I used a ziplock bag cut at the corner to squeeze the stuffing in. I only boiled the pasta for a little bit so it was easier to get the cheese-spinach stuffing in there.

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Heather September 22, 2012 at 7:32 pm

We made this tonight and loved it! Thank you for sharing such a great recipe :)

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elly September 22, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Glad you liked it!

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