From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...When my children were in high school they were heavily involved in activities and team sports that made the counting of fat grams and calories unnecessary. Pasta, in various forms, appeared frequently on my table, and manicotti was a special favorite. The version I used was made with crepes and covered with a lovely tomato sauce that simmered for hours on the back burner of the stove. It was delicious, but because it was labor intensive and undeniably fattening for those of us who do not regularly run 5 minute miles, it disappeared from my table as the house began to empty. My oldest daughter, whose kitchen these days is a happening place, re-introduced us to manicotti last week. Her version is lean and mean and about as figure friendly as pasta can get. She found the recipe in Cooking Light magazine several years ago and it has since become a standard on her menu roster. Her decision to make it concerned me a bit. I had visions of a very late dinner as she began to stuff the tubes for the small army that was waiting for dinner that evening. I never should have doubted her. Proving, yet again, that the apple does not fall far from the tree, she pulled a pastry bag from her luggage. It had been packed expressly for this purpose, and she had the tubes filled in less than 15 minutes. Dinner was served on time and I must say it was delicious. I hope you will give this pasta a try. Its flavor belies the low-fat products with which it is made and because the imanicotti is not cooked before stuffing, this version is a huge time and step saver. I know that those of you who try it will be really pleased with this figure friendly and easy to assemble pasta. Here's the recipe.
Meatless Manicotti...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Cooking Light
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided use
1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (8-ounce) package manicotti (14 shells)
1 (26-ounce) jar fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
1 cup water
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2) Combine 1-1/2 cups mozzarella, cottage cheese, spinach, Parmesan cheese, oregano and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Spoon about 3 tablespoons cheese mixture into each uncooked manicotti.
3) Pour half of tomato-basil pasta sauce into prepared baking dish. Arrange stuffed shells in a single layer over sauce, and top with the remaining sauce. Pour 1 cup water into dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella evenly over sauce. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour, or until shells are tender. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 7 servings.
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