2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound boneless chicken breasts (could use Italian ground sausage)
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, cooked and drained
1 (8 ounce) package manicotti shells (12 shells)
15 oz ricotta cheese (2 C)
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups spaghetti sauce, divided (homemade recipe)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules (less or more, to taste)
2 cups half-and-half (473 ml)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*Please note, there is prep time and precooking times to consider! Better yet, make it ahead of time and bake when needed! Just don't start this at dinner time. ;) For me, it was about 2 hours until we sat down to eat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until golden on both sides and is no longer pink in the middle. Set aside to cool, then dice. Saute onions until translucent. Saute garlic for 1 minute and stir in chicken, set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add manicotti shells and parboil for half of the time recommended on the package (4 minutes). Drain and cover with cool water to stop the cooking process and prevent the shells from cracking (some of mine cracked anyways).
To the chicken mixture add the cooked spinach and ricotta cheese. When the mixture is cool, add the beaten eggs.
Spread 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a sprayed 9x13 inch baking dish. Gently drain the manicotti shells and carefully stuff each one (using a pastry or large Ziploc bag works great!) with the meat and cheese mixture; place shells in prepared dish. Lightly cover the dish with plastic wrap or a clean, damp towel to prevent shells from cracking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Prepare the white sauce by melting the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and chicken bouillon. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. Whisk in half and half and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Pour or ladle the sauce evenly over the stuffed shells.
Stir the basil into the remaining spaghetti sauce. Carefully pour or ladle spaghetti sauce over the white sauce, trying to layer the sauces without mixing. (I poured each sauce on each half of manicotti)
Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes more.
-adapted from allrecipes
TIP: easy to fill with a pastry bag!
Friday, April 17, 2009